Focusing on nuances and transforming ostentation into hiaroscuro moods, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli capture the essence of couture.
Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli’s fall 2010 Haute Couture collection for Valentino was sartorial surgery on the gaudy bow. What it brought to the venerated house was a sense of youth – a kittenish primness, which was a bold escapade to tackle for couture season. A year later, the duo looked to the braid, but it didn’t anchor this new Valentino collection so much as grace it. First look out the theme became crystal clear – it was about princesses, royal girls from the days of yore who’ve never known how to dress any other way. The impact of the opening must be mentioned. From Guido Palau’s delicate tresses adorned with bijoux tiaras, the angelic grace of the makeup, the swell of Georges Delerue’s haunting “Theme de Camille”, the aching beauty of Maud Welzen and the undeniable elegance of that floor-length chevron embellished gown – it was a harmony that carried on through the whole show and lent this Couture collection a sense of poetry that could make a person weep.
Chiuri and Piccioli’s princess is of Bolshevik blood – Tsarist royalty. It’s right there in the clothes – from the heavy insistence on velvet (sometimes panne, at others devore-ed), but especially in the accents of gold. The virtuosity of some of these gilded pieces is so spectacular that the girls’ skins look gold-leafed – like brocaded flesh, as if opulence were molecular. And we wouldn’t be dealing with a Russian princess without a bit of severity, or a lot of it. The feeling was that of tragedy – of a doomed love, even. But there’s an assured romanticism in the gloom of those midnight black velvet dresses. Frankly, it’s hard to pinpoint another collection that sported such thickly impenetrable blackness. Sigrid Agren’s latticed front and back black gown is a thing of wonder, but above any other ensemble in this almost perfect display, was the panne velvet eau de nil gown worn by Kinga Rajzak, with a braid at the collar and one at the waist, which wrapped around the back and continued underneath the dropped slash. This one gown is so simple and at the same time so magisterial – forget the aforementioned “could” make a person weep remark. Suffice it to say that real tears were involved.