PARIS, France — If there was a fashion memo that said one of this season’s top trends would be blurring the lines between menswear and womenswear, it looks like the Valentino designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli didn’t get it. Instead, they stuck to their beautiful neck of the woods where romantic, feminine dressing is always the order of the day.
The duo’s Autumn/Winter 2014 show was both sophisticated and sweet. It had the puritanical underpinnings that the designers have injected into their vision of Valentino, and yet their chosen prints, graphic circles and demi lunes to start out the show and butterflies or a menagerie of animals to finish, gave the garments just the right amount of energy and whimsy.
There was a tinge of the late '60s, early '70s to this collection. It was most strongly felt in the daywear, filled with Pop Art coloured geometric shapes and harlequin patterned fabrics. Peppered amongst these strong pieces, the designers introduced some lovely, easy dresses in monochromatic floating fabrics or cut girlishly short alternatives in stiffer textiles.
But it was the butterflies that stole the show. They gathered onto brocade dresses so thickly that, from a distance, almost looked like blooms. They alighted on long graceful capes, their colourful wings reimagined in sequins. And were fabricated in fur on coats that were as stunning on the inside as they were on the exterior.
The craftsmanship of the duos work continues to impress. Most of this collection could have passed for couture on the catwalks of lesser designers. But that is what women want when they come to Valentino, to feel like a serene yet powerful modern day princess. But never one whose strength is usurped by the clothing she wears.