Valentino’s Haute Couture Is The “Supreme Personal Experience”
Clothing is an expression of quotidian rhythms. In rendering the art of the everyday in the zenith of artistry, Valentino helps us find our own private universes.
Paris’ Place Vendôme is the setting of fantasy. In the first arrondissement, the former monument to France’s former kings and emperors has become a locale as storied and glitzy as the Parisians who roam it. Each corner of the square—The Ritz to Napoleonic column posted in the centre—tells a story of grandeur. This season, Valentino selected their Place Vendôme salon privé as the backdrop to communicate their line of heritage. A felicitous move on Pierpaolo Piccioli’s part. Within their arena, Valentino presented their Spring/Summer 2024 haute couture collection with an unabashed autograph. Make no doubt about it, this is Valentino’s couture.
This notion was cemented last season when Valentino redefined the bounds of haute couture by rendering silk and beadwork into trompe-l’oeil denim. Continuing this act, Piccioli places himself as a sort of performance artist, using the medium of haute couture as a production of showmanship. The Italian luxuriate has long maintained that clothing is a vessel for which women see themselves. Here, over an aubergine carpet, Valentino offers an exercise in craftsmanship. By projecting the capabilities of his atelier, even the habitual can become a flourish of beauty. Lucid in form, the pieces are accessible for the Valentino woman to project themselves onto—a channel by which to dream.
It’s a meta approach to utilise haute couture—the zenith of artistry within the fashion industry—as the space to convey the sacred process of dressmaking. Especially given the discourse questioning couture’s relevance. But here, Valentino once again proves why it’s an essential art form—one that if not protected and respected by the likes of Piccioli, runs the risk of being rendered obsolete forever.
With this in mind, the collection emphasises the essence of artistry. ‘Le Salon’ promotes the prowess of technical feats to the forefront in an explosion of skill. The procession of bravado did not begin in the grand salon, but rather on the street as the starry front row, including Florence Pugh, Kylie Jenner (and her petite accoutrement, Stormi Webster) paraded down the cobblestone entryway and into Valentino’s baroque saloon.
Upon an operatic crescendo, models began their descent down a winding staircase. (We here at GRAZIA are awaiting Style Not Com’s confirmation on how many steps were taken to make it to the runway!) Valentino’s panoply was a homage to the labour of love embedded into each couture garment. Speaking after the show, Piccoli reminds us that couture is a parade of intimacy unlike ready-to-wear. “It’s specifically made on you so it’s the ultimate personal experience.”
This enabled pieces to range from the habitual to the grandiose. The exhibition began with a uniform of sorts. Flamingo pink trousers perfected with a simple pleat flitted under mesh shirting and Bordeaux blazers. A sprinkle of ivory feathers or the addition of merlot opera gloves punctuated silhouettes with a sense of regal opulence. Bubble skirts in deep forest greens projected forward while diaphanous silk leisurely draped and hung back to cling to models’ skin.
Colour was once again prominent and precise. Pierpaolo demands the highest saturation, which was offered in chartreuse blouses and cerulean separates. High voltage clementine spurred fantastical eveningwear, with gowns fit for anyone in the front row. In draping and pleating, Valentino mused on the importance of texture in adding dimension and skill to a garment. This was best discerned in the back half of the collection, where precise tinsel embroidery, delicate lace needlework, bespoke sequin appliqué and ornamental hardware became a tangible expression of the atelier’s creativity.
It was peacocking through the familiar, but also rife with the unexpected. Silhouettes on first glance find new significance upon your second, especially when you note the technical expertise of aluminium beadwork and pinpoint pleating. To truly see this collection, multiple viewings are required. Thankfully, Valentino is one maison that brings an element of play to couture, making this repeat exercise a joy in each watch.