A rousing fashion week from Paris this season it was, in one way or another — about ardour through originality. The sturdy, clear-cut voices that obtruded in the melee of shows were from designers who dared to be themselves and thus offered clarity with choices. Couture this season was filled with a sense of spring awakening. It seemed everyone wanted to spread their wings, mix and mingle – all whilE creating a statement of their own. And well, Pierpaolo Piccioli this season quite literally took his couture to the club, setting free, letting lose and breathing in the fashion and haute couture in every form with Le Club Couture Haute Couture Spring/Summer 23.
It was a lineup of pieces and silhouettes that caterwauled forward energy, rejecting negative thinking and challenging the ideas of what couture can be: wearable. The venue of the runway was a famous Paris joint under the Pont Alexandre. A bridge, little far for people who had been working at the shows, but perhaps Valentino’s full attendance proved that distance did not matter when it came to quality on the display. And, of course, who wouldn’t like to be a part of Valentino’s clan and party. It is the continuous, concise romanticism of the Valentino brand that pulls the crowd.
At the apex of the pyramid, you have the couture gowns with eccentric and unpredictable volume of silhouettes with feathers, wildly clashing colours and an unbridled sense of fantasia. A few floors down the Valentino pyramid, you have the frilly, girly, easy romance oversized garments: a popified cordial of Italian glamour, et voila, you have a lineup of boucle skirt suit variations, jaunty debutante dresses, popping colours, long skirts and a casual couture of heavily gilded gowns. Piccioli pretty much did these with his eyes closed as the runway flowed timelessly between past and present.
Valentino was unpretentious this season. It was modern, sleek and all about silhouette frills that caterwauled feminine appeal. It was here more effortless-looking couture outings – that is, managing to keep supersize volumes down with some ready to wear twist. There was plenty of work behind even the most deceptively simple looks. The draping that echoed its sculptural inspiration looked terrific in billowing dresses with minimal delicate bows and big ruffles.
Pierpaolo Piccioli definitely intended this collection to be young in every sense, as he introduced his new emerald green oversized jacket and pants, one could see the vastly popular Pink PP either popping here and there or simply taking over the ballgown, coats or lycra tights. Known for its conceptualism, Valentino took more instinctual approach. Though there were repeated silhouettes, but the pieces themselves were very diverse taking ‘anything goes’ approach. Tiny pelmet skirts, the mint green tights paired with pastel pink billowing organza top, barely any jewellery pieces and mere scraps of fabrics to create new looks was the order of the day.
The 89 looks were like tiered and layered candy floss creations. Cutaway bodysuits implanted with giant bows worn with floor-trailing capes, white shirts and ties styled with micro minis and unisex suiting taking up its own space – all came in electric blue, emerald green and yellow with jacquard and metallic beaded embroidery. Two of the most striking looks from Valentino’s showcase were the most minimal: one a white jacket with a dramatic coral bow, the other a jacquard coat, tailored to perfection, with Pink PP tights and a metallic bow holding the silhouette together. Well, Piccioli did it right – he opened the show with this piece. Each line had its own high points: Valentino’s crepe, sequined gowns were unquestionably pretty, as were the taffeta ball gowns with bodices covered in ruffles.
Encouraged by experience, Piccioli stuck to his guns and dedicated this unusual season to the volumes close to his heart. When you sketch ready-to-wear, you have to be a designer but when you create haute couture, you have to be a sculptor, that’s who he was! The bias cut, 'dégradé', miles of taffeta - he worked every one of them to achieve the formidable dimensions that embodied this collection. It was a homage to the six decades of Valentino’s classic approach to luxury fashion, '80s
couture gorgeousness that could draw the eye anywhere, anytime with giant ruffles in lavender or white.