Valentino SS24 – Paris Fashion Week
'L'Ecole' schools us on femininity at PFW. By Magdalen Manning
For Valentino SS24 at Paris Fashion Week, creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli chose to embrace nakedness as a concept, in an assertion of natural beauty and a subversion of the typical ‘male gaze’. The collection, dubbed L’École, highlighted the essentialism of clothing whilst empowering the woman underneath. It allowed Piccioli’s new muse to be viewed through a fresh lens honouring the nude state, as he explored the vital interrelations between body and fabric. Intimacy as well as individuality proved to be the subtext to his story.
Opening with a flurry of elaborately sculpted, floral mini-dresses, the designer accentuated the female form through revealing cut out detailing, low necklines and abbreviated silhouettes that exposed limbs and body in equal measure. Apparently seamless, three-dimensional patterns became a recurring motif throughout the show, via a new type of fabrication called ‘Altorilievo’ by the Maison. The technique was even used in denim. As a result, we were treated to an artistic exhibition of baroque foliage, blossoming flowers and lithe animals deftly arranged to maximise the ornate beauty of the female body.
Free-flowing linens and raw silks embraced curves for feelings of sensuality and freedom. Floor-length gowns with simple, rounded necklines drifted and swirled around the body, with nose-bleed slits knotted at the hip exposing acres of leg. Yet, as tantalising as these details were, there were no underlying notions of provocation or titillation. Instead it felt considered and eminently refined.
The tailored looks and more casual aesthetics on disply was where we saw that Piccioli’s woman was also not afraid to venture into more masculine architypes. Jeans were overlong and slouchy, while denim jackets and long shorts came roomy, boxy and unfussy. The same was true of the blazers and suiting – naturally worn bare-chested or bare-legged, of course.
Pristine whites, soft greys and fleshy nudes were broken up with moments of deep reds and inky black. Deceptively pretty flat shoes, open-toed sandals and chunky sneakers replaced the standard high-heel to facilitate movement and purpose, and perfectly dovetail with accessories like the new VLogo Moon bag featuring elliptical ‘V’ chains wrapped around the wrist.
It was these attitudes of female emotion and enterprise that international recording artist FKA Twigs and her dancers gave voice to before the show started at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts. But, by its end, it was Valentino SS24 that had schooled us all in Pierpaolo Piccioli’s art of design.
To read our review of the Valentino haute couture SS23 show, click here
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