Vogue gave this an unequivocal rave, and I’ll let them tell it:
Pierpaolo Piccioli is the couture designer who matters most in 2019. His Spring show, with its irrepressible color and diverse casting—he asked the rhetorical question, What if Cecil Beaton’s famous photograph of Charles James dresses could be with black women?—set a new template for collections with a conscience.
It’s no longer adequate to seduce with elegance and craftsmanship, though there is plenty of both at Valentino. Even in the rarefied echelon of couture, women are responding to and buying from brands they believe in, and Piccioli’s message of inclusivity is resonating in a world in which our leaders seem keen to promote isolationism, otherism, and fear.
The designer’s new offering was very much a continuation of its predecessor. “The only way to make couture alive today is to embrace different women’s identities and cultures,” Piccioli said in a studio preview. Making good on that mission statement, Lauren Hutton, Cecilia Chancellor, Georgina Grenville, and Hannelore Knuts, who range in age from mid-70s to early 40s, joined the lineup. “It’s about the idea of individualism,” Piccioli continued. His mood board reflected that notion with its mix of Avedon portraits, Guy Bourdin advertising shots, canvases by the Italian Renaissance mannerist Rosso Fiorentino, and paintings of Diana Vreeland. “The eye has to travel,” he said, referring to the documentary about the famous editor. And travel Piccioli did, adding what he called folk elements, like ornamental hats and komondor wool fringe, to his exquisite garments.
I do not have anything nearly so academic to say. It’s a LOT to look at and ingest — lots of color and pattern and texture and DRAMA. At times it’s overwhelming, but it’s also exactly the stuff that makes attending a fashion show so extra and so fun. But it’ll have to be matched VERY carefully to wearers in order not to devour them.