The Valentino Fall 2013 collection read like a modern fairy tale, rife with romance, beauty, and femininity. Designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli drew inspiration from the paintings of Flemish masters, and it came through most clearly in the modest silhouettes and simple red, white, blue, and black color palette. Schoolgirl shifts were adorned with embroidered lace dickies, cuffed long sleeves, crisp collars, and faux front pockets; and for evening, those same accents appeared on a range of floor-length gowns, providing a more subdued kind of elegance for the Valentino woman. It wasn't all stunning eveningwear, though. A youthful sensibility was introduced via shorter minidresses — finished with scalloped edges and subtle colorblocking — and through slightly tougher leather-and-lace numbers. To finish, we saw the house's signature red come down the runway in an off-the-shoulder gown, along with a parade of insanely pretty blue gowns, either lace-covered, embroidered, tapestry-printed, or solid-hued. See it all here.
It's such a shame none of the girls who walked in Valentino's Fall 2013 show on Tuesday wore pearl earrings. The collection was an ode to Flemish artists and artisans that visited everything from Rembrandt to Delftware, and even threw in some less-than-obvious references to Vermeer.
But even shoppers who didn't major in art history will find things to appreciate and love in this offering, like the white, embroidered leather collars on dresses that called "The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp" to mind and enhanced their wearer's faces. The many blue and white dresses in the show were cut from fabrics developed to look like Delft pottery, seen often in Vermeer's paintings.
The clothes themselves toed the line between Valentino's place in the fairy tale of fashion (a few ermine pieces made the models wearing them look like Renaissance royalty) and the current vogue for rounded shoulders and generous outerwear. What Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli have shown here is that they can work a theme without getting too thematic. And the results are simply stunning.
Other couturiers have built small parks with real trees and bushes to display their Spring 2013 Couture collections, but Valentino's Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli used garden elements in their actual garments.
Curlicues made from tubes of red, white, or black fabric decorated everything from dresses to suits and even shoes, echoing the wrought-iron gates and fences used to tame nature in public parks. One gray dress covered in embroidered birds was paired with a black cape made from the tubing, making the model wearing it look like a mobile birdcage. Black lace was arranged on one A-line skirt to look like a garden maze, and a procession of shimmering green leaves snaked up a sheer ruffled dress.
And while every other look carried a floral embellishment or appliqué of some kind, this collection was lightweight and even breezy in some instances. That feeling owed to Chiuri and Piccioli's use of sheer fabrics and light colors. With the exception of Valentino red, the collection primarily featured whites, cream, gray, pale pink, and black. A few sleek dresses without decoration and jackets with an off-the-shoulder cut helped the offering feel modern.
Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccoli's Spring 2013 collection for Valentino was, as Valentino collections always are, a celebration of women of all kinds. Inspired by a recent exhibit of photographer Roman Arturo Ghergo — who photographed wealthy, famous women and women on the street with the same elevating eye, this collection aspired to make women look glamorous no matter what the occasion.
This meant A-line day dresses that were ladylike, but subscribed to the season's penchant of revealing sexy bits of skin by being stitched together with slightly open seams. Otherwise simple shift dresses were decorated with intricately details bib panels. There were the requisite sheer lace dresses here, too, notably in a wispy black material, but rendered with an elegance that is uniquely Valentino. A few beautiful, but simple, evening garments featured a narrow slit in the bodice. It's perhaps the most modest glimpse of skin we've seen all week.
After the paparazzi calmed down from Jennifer Lopez's hot-pink front-row appearance at Valentino's Spring '13 show, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli were ready to start the show. While we come to expect nothing less than feminine, ladylike looks from the brand, the designing duo injected a dose of modernity into the collection, as models walked out in see-through plastic trenchcoats and leather dresses. Chiuri and Piccioli's take on sheer was done in the most beautiful manner: blouses and skirts were layered over lace slips, while gorgeous gowns showcased impeccable floral beading on diaphanous layers. The story continued with stunning white guipure lace dresses and skirt, effortlessly elegant slipdresses, and, of course, the red-carpet-worthy gowns. This time, Chiuri and Piccioli created an exciting array of lace gowns featuring whimsical contrasting collars and beaded embroidery. Feminine, flattering, and breathtaking — we're already counting down the days until Anne Hathaway wears yet another one of these magical creations.
- Trends: Sheer layers, embellishment, leather, lace.
- Colors: Black, white, red, navy, beige, green, bronze, silver.
- Key Piece: We can't wait to see the breathtaking black floral beaded gown on the red carpet.
- Accessories: Clear sandals, envelope clutches, studded leather bags, oversize sunglasses.
- Who Should Wear It: The gorgeous array of lace and embellished gowns were made for the likes of Anne Hathaway, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Keira Knightley. We can also picture front-row attendee Jennifer Lopez exploring her softer side in one of Valentino's ethereal lace gowns.
Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli kept up the dark streak from their Fall ready-to-wear line when they created their evening-focused Fall 2012 Couture collection. The show was partly inspired by the painter Gustave Moreau, who, according to the house, was "a lover of dark colors but never painted with black." The resulting assortment traveled to visual extremes: at times it relied on heavy brocades, painted floral patterns, and intricate beadwork for a sense of richness and luxury, and at others the simplicity of long-sleeved dresses in dark, solid colors made for stark contrast. But even the dresses in basic black carried more than meets the eye — the first dress that came down the runway, a sheer, pleated number in black chiffon and crepe de chine, took 500 hours to create. Offering both forms of high-concept design seems an effective strategy: Valentino CEO Stefano Sassi said couture orders are now back to the volume they enjoyed in 2008, when Valentino Garavani was still designing.
Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli looked to the swinging silhouettes of the '60s and Andy Warhol's iconic portrait series for Resort 2013. "We imagined a playful and optimistic collection, using color as a structural, rather than decorative, element," Chiuri explained. To that end, there were tulle gowns in princess silhouettes — high necks, long sleeves, flared skirts, nipped waists — embroidered with cotton-candy-hued florals for night, and for day, lounge-ready pantsuits in vivid lace and hyper-colored leopard prints.
>> Pier Paolo Piccioli and Maria Grazia Chiuri looked to "globetrotting" and the idea of "searching for one’s roots" for Fall 2012 Valentino. Sound a bit granola? It wasn't. The duo's great talent at Valentino is their ability to find the sweet spot between thematic and pretty — in a modern, on-brand way — and this season, that talent was on full display. Silhouettes were cut in easy, slightly girlie shapes — knee-grazing skirts, fitted bodices, wide culottes, puffed sleeves, and natural waists — but the fabrics were decidedly grown-up. There was crisp ivory organza, butterscotch wool, carpet-patterned tapestry, and — for a hint of edge — black leather.
>> Valentino designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli went soft and lovely for Spring 2012, tapping the romance of the Age of Enlightenment and the innocence of Marie Antoinette's Petit Trianon for a couture collection rife with delicateness — or as they put it, "deep lightness." For day, there were softly swishing knee-length dresses with ruffled necks and sheer sleeves; for evening, full-length strapless or long-sleeved gowns in heavy silk and taffeta — some embellished with crystals and pearls, and others printed with antique-looking florals and toile.
Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli On Why They Don't Design "Editorial" Clothes for Valentino
>> Pier Paolo Piccioli and Maria Grazia Chiuri admit that designing for Valentino in tandem "isn’t easy," but they do agree on the general goal for the brand: "I have to say, with this [most recent Valentino] collection, the idea from the very beginning was not to do 'editorial' things just for the sake of it. Because in recent years, the image of fashion has prevailed over traditional fashion, meaning sartorial detailing and workmanship. But fashion designing means creating something using a special technique that might not emerge in a photo, but when you look at it up close, you see that it’s stylish. That’s a cultural problem. Clearly we live in a time where image is more important than content." Piccioli adds: "It’s as if fashion looks at the women who wear it as less valid. Well, if I want to do something artistic, then I’ll make an art installation." [Interview]