Friday, July 8, 2011
Valentino Fall2011 Couture
Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli are the Posh Spice of the couture; you could call them Deux-Luxe Spice. For seasons they've churned out some of the most banal, tortured clothes in the name of the god of glamour, Prince Valentino. Every time I pass the boutique on Madison Avenue and spy from the corner of my eye some scary shoe with eleventeen buckles and straps next to a bag that is laden with pounds and pounds of circular leather ruffles with the ubiquitous zipper-tooth trim I ask myself what is going on. They were touted as the accessories brains behind the label and given the task of taking on the mantle of creative directors of the ready to wear and couture. The clothes looked worse than the accessories which looked god awful. So where did this sublime collection come from? How did they shake off the Butt-Uglies and hit the road to Fab-u-land? Honestly, I don't care. It's as though they cast off all their needless pretensions and just got down to good old fashioned work. There was a purity to the clothes that was at once reminiscent of Valentino's taste but clearly the ideas of new blood. The finish to each look had that supreme confidence you expect from the couture. You could see that every piece was as beautifully rendered inside as out. The fuss level was almost non-existent with the fabric taking the lead with a modicum of decoration applied. Details like a wisp of pleated tulle attached to the shoulders of a gown that was all blossoms and petals of silver and gold was just the last punctuation of the statement. Devore silk velvets in designs of feathers and panne velvet the color of flat champagne was like liquid suspended. Even the red crepe column with its elegant cowl was another dramatically austere addition to the house's pantheon of red gowns. The lattice lace trimmed gowns in pale gray were also beautiful in their delicacy. My misjudgement of Chiuri and Piccioli as two designers not up to the task, just like my dim view of Victoria Beckham was premature. I eat my words and am glad to be proven wrong. There's nothing greater in couture than great clothes and Valentino looks poised to move that tradition forward.