“A cabinet of curiosities.” What a splendid starting point for couture, a realm supposedly unique as well as sublime. The notion worked beautifully for Valentino’s Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli, whose now-identifiable signature – romantic elegance evocative of Renaissance portraiture – has a pristine core well-suited to surface eccentricity.
“Very interesting pieces, big or strange, we wanted to create something related to [the idea],” Piccioli said during a preview. “It’s like [the models] are dreaming about something mysterious.”
The designers set the mood with their first look out: a gown of antiqued golden guipure lace worked to frame a series of pictorial oddities – rhinoceros and what appeared to be hybrid mythological beasts.
Different, indeed, and intriguing. Yet this did not lead to a wildlife fest. Rather, the designers let their curiosity run to other areas of the natural world and beyond. One gown came in an elaborate shell-patterned brocade while a coral motif showed up variously as black-and-silver brocade and a number of intricate embroideries.
In the midst, there was one mistake. The show closed with a full-skirted gown in a demonstrative print of eclectic mien – rhino, snake, insects, sea creatures – seamed in the back with an un-haute lack of precision.
That was, however, a rare misstep made up for elsewhere in perfectly engineered lacework and embroideries.