Just being beautiful is never enough for Pierpaolo Piccioli at Valentino; he is, without doubt, a man of substance. His collections often evoke a certain religious mood; the high necks, long, clean-lines always feel somewhat monastic in their modesty. Consecrating the runway this season was a collection inspired by the ritual of worship.
But, rather than being overly concerned with, say, religious iconography, the focus was on the act of devotion – and nothing is as much of a labour of love as the meticulous hand-crafting of a couture collection. That requires faith. These pious beginnings, however, belie the aesthetic of the collection; it was, by all accounts, modern. There was a heavy focus on daywear and the colour palette was far from restrained. Think trousers in flamingo worn with a mohair cape-back tank top in dusky rose; a hot pink coat worn over a green feather skirt, white boots and a daffodil yellow ribbon belt; layers of lemon, cerulean, maroon and grey. Bold, you could say. Pieces were worn layered and layered and layered again –trousers, tunics, cropped sweaters, high-neck sweaters, cape coats, shirts, sometimes all at once. The effect was never messy. The meticulous attention to detail kept things neat; even the slightly bonkers colour combinations tied things together with its unabashed eccentricity. This was the sort of couture daywear to coax even the most devout denim wearer out of jeans and into tailoring.
Things then started to fade to black. Sheer shirts were worn over nipple-traversing tape and paired with tailored trousers, some were slipped over white high-neck blouses while sheer panels on simple gowns created textural intrigue. Ah, the texture. This came into its own in the form of brocade lace, velvet intarsia and chiffon plissé gowns. Grandiose yet restrained with something of a ceremonial air. The models glided, sometimes hands in pockets, down the runway. The long silhouettes in cuts that stood away from the body felt otherworldly, sacred, but the mixture of demure minimalism, daringly sheer chiffon and decadent ruffles made for a collection fit for #blessed cool-girls with places to go.