I've used a lot of adjectives to describe clothes from Valentino, and the talents of its original designer: beautiful, impeccable, gorgeous, stunning, incomparable, delicate... Lately, unfortunately, I've also use words like uninspiring and repetitive. But I never thought I'd use the words "hot mess" to describe a Valentino couture collection.
Well, that day has come.
Holy cow, was this bad.
Yeah, whatever -- just because you're wearing some sort of face-obscuring headwear doesn't make the work cutting-edge or hip, people.
After Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli's first couture colection for Valentino after the summary dismissal of Alexandra Facchinetti (whose work I loved), mine was not the only review who called them out on their ossified approach and their regurgitation of Valentino's Greatest Hits. It appears that these criticisms were heard and taken to heart and that maybe the PTBs, realizing that the world does in fact go 'round and les femmes d'un certain age who thrive on a diet of Valentino's classic little suits and floral chiffon dresses will not be around forever, and perhaps they might start paying attention to the possibility of younger women wanting to buy Valentino couture, especially given the enormous percentage of the couture sales that are accounted for by young globetrotters from "emerging" economies. That's good, they should do that. But this is not merely taking into account a younger audience -- from the looks of things the folks at Valentino have decided to hasten the demise of their traditional clientele by throwing her under a dingdong bus.
Oh, sure, the couture work is still impeccable, the detailing exquisite and even jaw-dropping at times:
But what is it in the service of? This????
It doesn't matter how fantastic that lace is and how gorgeous are those delicate chiffon ruffles -- that outfit is awful. It's awful for a middle-aged woman, it's awful for a young woman, it's awful.
Chiuri and Piccioli have done their homework. They've looked at the Balmain shows.
And the Givenchy shows.
Am I intrigued by the idea of lace evening shorts? Yeah, a little, I have to admit. For Valentino? Not so much.
The full-length pieces, of which there were far fewer than usual at a Valentino couture show, were simply tragic.
Boxy, ill-proportioned -- basically unattractive, despite the obvious quality of the materials.
The trend of sheers, lace, and under as outer was important in this show -- obviously, this is something that is going to be with us for a while. Here is how it was handled by John Galliano for Dior:
Light, whimsical, cheeky, yet still interesting and obviously springing from an actual idea, not just an urge to appeal to a demographic.
And here's the bustier dress as executed by Chiuri and Piccioli at Valentino:
Humorless, clunky, and frankly -- oh, it truly hurts to say this -- a little trashy.
Trashy!! At Valentino!! My friends, the earth itself is wobbling on its axis.
This was the first thing I saw come down the runway that I liked. It wasn't very Valentino, but I liked the silhouette and the simplicity. But look closer -- check out her shoulders.
There's some sort of GIANT ruff attached to the back that stands up behind her like a weird, gloomy peacock tail. Or worse:
Good googly-moogly, it's an haute couture reptile. And this wasn't the only example of this particular misjudgment:
As I said to Wendy B, that is the butt-bow to end all butt-bows. If you wore that dress on a breezy evening, your date would have to attach a string to you.
It took me a moment to see the frill on the black sheath dress, because as you may have noticed the entire collection is nude and black, and the set for the show was also black. Here's an idea for the folks at Valentino: when you're showing a collection of clothing, how about creating an environment where we can actually SEE them?
And do you know what made me saddest of all? The shoes. The shoes! The shoes at Valentino have dependably been some of the most fantastic, gorgeous, drool-inducing beauties in the business on a regular basis. I have a pair of my own that are some of the most beautiful shoes I've ever slid my little hooves into
And yet, in this collection, they didn't even get the shoes right.
Really, that's a bit much. And we know that I'm a lover of an extreme shoe. But that's just silly. And worse yet, appears once again to have been copied from another designer:
Feathers! On your shoes! What a great idea! And what an awful execution of a great idea! Here's how it's done well:
And there were more...
Seriously -- what the HELL is that????? The really, really bizarre thing about this failure in particular? Chiuri and PIccioli used to be the accessories designers for Valentino until they were bumped up into chief designer duties.
For which, I am sad to say, they were clearly not ready. Valentino is in trouble. From season to season we're seeing these huge stylistic pendulum swings that give the impression of the house being completely unmoored, and despite the still-living Valentino himself being available for input and guidance, they seem to have absolutely no idea of where they're going and what the house is to become. This makes me all the more infuriated that Alessandra Facchinetti was not given more time to work her magic for the company. I felt like the few collections she did were absolutely note-perfect and was astonished that they cut her loose so quickly. I have read that the reasons Fachinetti was let go have as much to do with her personality as her design chops -- there are rumors of her being a slavemaster and a prima donna and that the workers at Valentino were suffering mightily under the yoke of her tyranny. Of course I cannot speak to that in the least, I've never met Ms. Fachinetti. And if it is in fact true, I suppose Valentino & his partners should be commended for looking out for their employees. But what of their legacy? It may now be peaceful in the Valentino workrooms, but it's the peace of the graveyard.
Style.com, SydneyWildlifeWorld.com.au, Style Spy, Net-a-Porter.com