Valentino Spring/Summer 2015 Couture

Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli are in the mood for love. Their inspiration board was lined with quotes from Shakespeare, bits and pieces of Dante’s Inferno, and the paintings of Marc Chagall, hopeless romantics all. Chagall, in particular, captivated them. “He had an incredible life, very hard, but he maintained his optimistic vision,” Piccioli said. The painter’s Russian ancestry provided a leitmotif for the embellishments that are so central to the designers’ aesthetic. There were leather flowers appliquéd to rough-hewn linen, naive needlepoint embroideries on long pinafores worn over smocked shirts, and a shearling vest densely decorated with leather paillettes. The Russian pieces were far from humble, but their craftiness pointed to the differences between Chiuri and Piccioli’s version of the brand and that of its founder. In this case, at least, they wanted for a touch of Valentino’s glamour.

“In some ways, you are flying when you are in love,” Chiuri said, apropos of a pair of tulle gowns, one embroidered with rainbows and the other with clouds of silver lamé. It was a beautiful sentiment, and we commend her for expressing herself so earnestly. Sincerity of Chiuri’s kind is a true rarity in this business. Nonetheless, the clothes were best when they weren’t wearing their heart on their sleeve. A velvet dress straight out of fair Verona in a luminous shade of light blue was striking in its simplicity. Its sisters, a caftan shape in quilted red velvet and a strappy black velvet style with a bodice in the shape of wings, were the show’s undisputed highlights—sophisticated, rich-looking, and grown-up. The gown with the molten gold bodice will surely be another favorite. Its skirt is stitched with a line from Dante’s Inferno, which is fitting. A girl would go to hell and back to get her hands on it.

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