It’s no secret that the fashion industry is currently in a state of flux. The speeding up of the traditional cycle, fuelled by the rise of fast-fashion, impact of social media and ‘see now, buy now’ mentality of millennials, has left many questioning the status-quo, as well as the relevance of fantasy-filled runway collections to today’s increasingly street-style focused consumer.
But despite the so-called realism sweeping the catwalks, there are some designers who remain faithful to the reality of their legion of loyal fans and to those who need the dream. Step forward Giambattista Valli, whose consistent front row following – Lee Radziwill, Bianca Brandolini, Noor Fares, Eugenie Niarchos - is testament to the enduring appeal of ladylike luxury.
These high-profile women, and many more like them, demand a modern wardrobe, but without sacrificing the unabashed femininity that the Roman designer consistently delivers. And so needless to say, his autumn/winter show at the Grand Palais didn’t disappoint.
The cocktail dress took centre stage, in a palette of soft black and white prints. But the thigh-grazing styles of spring were replaced with more demure, just above the knee designs, and the sixties silhouette was also softened – fluttery, plissé chiffon frocks were a favourite this season, with nipped-in waists and lace paneling providing the essential Valli elements of interest.
The multi-strapped flat-form gladiator sandals that appeared on the spring runway were also reimagined, with heeled leather pumps bound to the legs by bondage-style leather bands adding a distinct edge to the pretty Parisian chic inspired collection.
As is customary, the show closed with a clutch of the designer’s romantic red-carpet ready gowns. Perhaps more streamlined in style than in previous seasons but no less dramatic, and with exquisite detailing and decoration.
This was a collection that spoke firmly to Giambattista Valli’s inner circle of social dressers. But despite remaining faithful to an ultra-feminine aesthetic, this is a label that is modernizing on its own terms, evolving with integrity season after season, rather than succumbing to today’s tale of gritty reality.