Couture is steeped in tradition. Design houses must adhere to strict rules in order to be classified as true couturiers and use the haute couture label, and collections still tend to celebrate the old-world glamour that today, we typically associate with red-carpet dressing. So when Pierpaolo Piccioli’s distinctly modern take on this historical practice was unveiled in Paris last night it caused quite a stir, not only prompting industry critics to describe it as “magnificent“ and “perfection”, but also, and perhaps more telling, a “longed-for breakthrough.”
“I wanted to face that past and translate it into my own illusion of couture,” said the Valentino designer backstage at the Hotel Salomon de Rothschild. And the last major show of the Spring/Summer 2018 season saw the traditional elements of extravagance and fantasy combined with the casually cool, in a collection that showcased generous proportions and a bold colour palette.
The first half of the presentation was dominated by a series of looks in which pants took center stage, a rarity in haute couture. Voluminous styles in an array of eye-popping colors were paired with various tops ranging from the simple to the show-stopping, and topped with cover-ups for every occasion, from capes to operas coats.
Fantastical feathered hats and oversized bows and ruffles were used to lend looks a sense of grandeur, with operatic shapes also adding dramatic interest.
But despite extending the concept of couture to include a much wider way of dressing, Pierpaolo Piccioli didn’t forget his loyal customers for whom goddess gowns are a mainstay. And the themes of proportion and color continued to play out here, with a series of spectacular floor-sweeping styles including, of course, a striking ensemble in Valentino Red.