Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Giambattista Valli


"They're bad characters. They've got morning-after hair, and they've thrown on their haute couture to run around in the next day." Giambattista Valli painted a vivid picture of his muse backstage before his show. When he landed on the couture schedule six seasons ago, he didn't so much set out to rewrite the rules as he did to inject the made-to-measure world's rarefied confines with a young energy, aided and abetted along the way by his photogenic front row of international jet-setters. Rarely, though, has Valli's magnificent obsession with youth been more apparent than it was tonight, with his emphasis on a short, supremely leggy silhouette and what he called a "spontaneous attitude." 

He built his party outfits on a fitted miniskirt base, sometimes swagging rolls of duchesse satin around the hips on top of that mini, and other times layering a short-in-front, long-in-back kicky pleated skirt with a splice up the middle over the top. Above that it could be a cropped top in a silk cloque with a grosgrain-ribbon hem, or a sleeveless silk shell embroidered in iridescent blue three-dimensional floral appliqués. Valli's fabrics and embellishments tended toward the dense and heavy, the polar opposite of Raf Simons' work at Dior today. By the same token, the color palette (especially that vivid blue and pink on black) and the voluminous, peplumed shapes owed a noticeable debt to Simons' debut at Dior circa July 2012. 

Simons is leading the fashion conversation at the moment; it's probably all too easy to get swept up in it. But Valli is a runway veteran, with plenty of his own things to say about layering print and texture. They resonated most clearly in Joan Smalls' appliquéd floral-print dress with a matching crop top worn over it, and again on an Yves Klein blue thigh-slit ball gown topped by an abbreviated black bugle-bead embroidered tank. That look was youthful in a way that was entirely Valli's own.

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