Majestic and stunning. Pierpaolo Piccioli staged a presentation for Valentino during this week’s Paris haute couture Spring Summer 2024 shows — attended by such names as house ambassador Florence Pugh, Jennifer Lopez and Kylie Jenner with daughter Stormi — that reiterates the importance, grandeur and amazement of the handmade, highlighted by the house’s seamstresses who precede the designer in the final greeting to the audience. Accepting the applause of those who are awed by their precious and indispensable work, Valentino’s seamstresses had smiles on their faces yet with the shyness and reserve of those who prefer to be in the atelier or, at most, backstage at the fashion show.
“It is a luxury in an industrialized world,” commented Piccioli, who promotes and defends the slow but profound work as a way to raise the bar on research, aesthetics and innovation. The new Valentino couture collection titled “Le Salon” is structured with capes of three-dimensional flowers and jewels snaking around the body with endless gold ribbons, defying gravity. Exotic skins, fur and feathers are replicated through fabrics and techniques, becoming an invented nature: silk organza rouleaux and hand-cut sequins simulate the spirit of the natural world through the art of human ingenuity.
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“For me, in high fashion, luxury is not an exotic leather but the ways and amount of work it takes to reproduce it by hand. The pride is to produce it only in Piazza Mignanelli in Rome [the headquarters of the Italian brand]. I want this because doing everything in our ateliers leads to unparalleled quality and spreads even more harmony in our workshops,” said the designer.
The environment of haute couture is a space of expectation and wonder, where dreams become reality through its own rituals. For Piccioli, “Le Salon” represents an obsessive search for perfection, associated with a passion for manual labor and a fascination with the process, resulting in meticulously embroidered dresses, feathered bodices, tailored blazers and coats, voluminous dresses and sculptural garments that define the body.
The show’s soundtrack showcased the most famous arias in opera, starting with the notes of Puccini’s Tosca, continuing with the very eminent and unmistakable Un bel dì, taken from Madame Butterfly, and in the finale the smooth “Casta Diva” sung by Maria Callas.
Special guests at Valentino’s Paris haute couture show also included Samara Weaving, Emerald Fennell, Nadia Lee Cohen, Leonie Hanne, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, composer Alexandre Desplat, artist/photographer Nadia Lee Cohen and no less than three generations of Jenners, as grandmother Kris joined daughter Kylie and granddaughter Stormi.
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