An iron fence reinvented in the crepe piping on an organza gown; encrusted lace flowers climbing tulle and silk; draped transparencies hemmed by birds. For S/S13 couture, Valentino explores the languid beauty of a forgotten garden. Harking back to the Brothers Grimm and the Garden of Versailles, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli paint an ethereal world of magical beauty. The result: embellished tea-cup dresses, cutaway jackets and floor-length gowns as Valentino believed, “an evening dress that shows a woman’s ankles while walking is the most disgusting thing I have ever seen.”
“An evening dress that shows a woman’s ankles while walking is the most disgusting thing I have ever seen.” — Valentino
Liminality and nature are explored through meticulous craftsmanship: signature hand-rolled piping and floral embroidery, painstaking complexity and detail found in hand-painted porcelain beads and crystals, reminiscent of scattered seeds. The precision and expertise within each Valentino gown is achieved with a laboratory-style approach to every technique.
The collection is balanced by strict shots of ‘Rosso Valentino’ red, a colour synonymous with the brand since the late 70s. Some credit it to Valentino’s first meeting with Diana Vreeland, others to his visit to the circus. Whatever the influence, red has become as customary to the label as black and white. The Valentino family is an intimate group of ateliers who have grown with the house for over thirty years. It is therefore no surprise that signature motifs, such as their colour palette, beadwork and voluminous frills are woven throughout the couture collection, like a skip down a garden path.
Text by Mhairi Graham