Cinematic is the best way to describe Valentino’s haute couture collection for the Fall 2020 season. This morning, via livestream, the Italian label’s creative director, Pierpaolo Piccioli, took full advantage of the video format that has become part and parcel in the fashion industry to bring viewers into a realm of fantasy.
The mini film, dubbed “Of Grace and Light,” begins with a tour of Rome, Italy, where Valentino originated. Devoid of color, a camera courses through empty city streets, capturing major landmarks around Cinecittà Studios, where the show was staged. Indeed, the reference to Italy’s movie-making industry is palpable, especially the glossy styles of famed directors Federico Fellini and Luchino Visconti, who, in their unique ways, showcased la dolce vita. Piccioli in collaboration with photographer Nick Knight, however, took this outlook to new heights—in this case, literally.
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Models appear on the screen in a dark theater, suspended from the ceiling or standing on columns in flowing skirts and toppers with exaggerated trains, as images of flames, bouquets of flowers, and other natural elements are projected on the surface. From a larger-than-life cape made of panels of effervescent feathers over a sequined bodysuit to a gown with layers of ruffles to frocks in crêpe de chine that feature portrait necklines, voluminous shoulders, or frilly collars, every look conveys an angelic quality—which is further punctuated by the fact that it is an all-white collection.
In fact, the eponymous designer, Valentino Garavani, was lauded for his 1968 couture line that followed the same color palette. But where his was grounded in the modish styles of that period, Piccioli gave his designs an otherworldly element akin to the costumes in The Great Ziegfeld by Robert Z. Leonard, another auteur who brought glamour to the silver screen.
Ushering audiences into a dreamscape, to be sure, is one of the hallmarks of the couture season. But with the coronavirus pandemic hindering the ability to produce the typical runway spectacles, designers have had to use other mediums to illustrate their visions. And Piccioli found the perfect outlet to do just that. With the livestream performance, he not only nodded to the brand’s history and that of the Italian film industry, but showcased a collection that truly upheld the incredible standards of haute couture.
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