Chiuri and Piccioli Weave a Fairtale for Valentino

Valentino creative directors Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Picci0li, who took over after the 2008 dismissal of Alessandra Facchinette, have been celebrated these past few years for bringing a younger and hipper feel to the designer. Which is why many were surprised when their arrival at Valentino’s Haute Couture show was greeted by a mood board complete with haunting photographs of Russia’s last Tzar and his ill-fated family enjoying a long-gone style of fairytale opulence. With the mood firmly established what followed was a fearless collection of new haute couture inspired by the fairy-tales of old.

Restrained long sleeve floor length gowns, wool jackets with Cossack collars and accents such as buttons running up the sleeve or down the back spoke to the bygone era of baroque inspired couture. However painstakingly delicate Gothic lattice, a cocktail dress spun from a net of crystals and petaled skirts with platinum tracery were just a few of the details that hinted to the underlying contemporary nature of the collection. When asked about the overall intention of the pieces Piccioli suggested that the blend of new and old was designed to evoke “a sense of memory.” And sure enough each piece seemed to blend the newest haute couture techniques with a classic decorum that stirred a feeling of familiarity born from the children’s stories of youth.

The overall effect was a sublimely fairy tale like experience where attendees where treated to new and innovative ideas that still seemed unshakably familiar, as though they had appeared before in some half remembered dream. One dress in particular, made of devore-ed flowers on a sheer background and featuring pleated tulle wings flying from the shoulders looked as thought it had already been to Middle Earth and back. It will be interesting to see how the line is received by the young trendsetters who have flocked to Valentino since the rise of the Chiuri/Piccioli tag team, but one thing is certain; the pair have already done a masterful job of telling a 21st century fairy tale.

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