A finely judged vision of impeccable taste, where the idea was to concentrate of free-spirited beauty in a world of brocade floral robes; gothic paisley gowns and plissé dresses.
At times, it looked more like a haute couture show, which was actually the point. Since Piccioli revealed post-show that one of his goals was to distill the dream of couture into this spring 2019 ready-to-wear collection.
His starting point was considering the Maverick Art Colony, an early utopian art commune in upstate New York, founded in 1905, whose leader Hervey White is often to as “the first hippie.” Maverick held early bohemian carnivals almost half a century before the legendary Woodstock Festival of August 1969 that attracted over 400,000 people.
Hence the idea of the community and this show was people living as they really wanted to, not held down by the conventions of the day. Though the billowing peasant shirts, evening gowns worn at picnics, bandanas, berets and feather accoutrements of Maverick translated into something far grander chez Valentino.
Piccioli’s opening 14 looks worn, especially the first on veteran model Kristen McMenamy said it all; giant dresses in layers of taffeta and silk, enveloping a cast that wore green Lurex like eye shadow, glitzy red lips and fantastic farmer’s hats – a meter in diameter – of straw and fabric petals. Woodstockian to the max.
When Piccioli did attempt to mix in some posh sportswear – specifically a pair of sweatshirts in his giant ‘V’ logo print – the look did feel a little forced. However, there was plenty to photograph, notably a series of sinful Valentino red evening dresses, a kindly gesture to the house’s founder Signor Garavani in his fetish color.
Neither could one fault the footwear: some Italian brands sell thousands of loafers with fur trim; Valentino now presents with cock feathers which will be huge hits.
One might argue that there nothing terribly new in this show, but it did have a noble message and images of great romantic beauty. Little wonder Piccioli received huge applause at the finale, many of the audience standing in the custom-made tent. A designer so at ease, he was able to have lunch with a gang of friends in the garden of the Hotel Costes, a couple of hours before this show.
However, in a nervous moment, security initially prevented the audience exiting the show; as police cars swarmed outside, reportedly arresting a suspected attacker. Before then directing guests to exit on the north side of the huge tent.
Eventually the Maverick festivals were closed down by the efforts of a travelling Evangelist who was shocked by the bacchanalia and nudity; but its spirit lived on this Sunday, albeit in the most rarefied of forms, a Valentino fashion show in Paris.
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