Haute Art: Valentino, Viktor & Rolf Provoke
If big risks and classical gowns are what you seek in haute couture, Valentino and Viktor & Rolf did not disappoint last week on the Paris runways.
If big risks and classical gowns are what you seek in haute couture, Valentino and Viktor & Rolf did not disappoint last week on the Paris runways. We were reminded of the vision of the Dutch duo January 31 as police confirmed that they had recovered a stolen Picasso in Istanbul; the Viktor & Rolf show looked like a tribute to Cubism, or perhaps their impression of what Theo van Doesburg would have sent down the runway if he had been a fashion designer. First of all though, we must credit Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli for providing the haute couture fashion week this spring with a proper standard bearer and point of reference. The house of Valentino provided a fashionable history of art lesson in Paris on Wednesday night last week, as it showcased its Spring 2016 haute couture collection.
Under the creative direction of designers Chiuri and Piccioli, the Italian label whipped up a classical collection of show-stopping gowns that felt both timeless and modern. Perhaps they imagined themselves collaborating with Gustav Klimt when creating this collection.
Featuring floor-skimming, off-the-shoulder Grecian robes creased into sharp pleats and swishy velvet columns decorated with ornate bronze harnesses, the result was a demure yet worldly aesthetic rooted in technicality and expertise. Structures were fluid without being overly loose and the color palette offered up an opulent combination of rich creams, deep olive greens and resplendent burgundies.
Semi-sheer chiffons, plunging necklines and beaded kaftans worn with nothing underneath meant that there was plenty of skin on show, and yet the overall effect was one of highly serene virtuousness.
Art, as ever, was also the starting point for the Dutch pioneers Viktor & Rolf, whose all white collection was an exercise in Cubism. The design duo’s work has always been guaranteed to spark debate, and their towering sculptural dresses composed of distorted 3D facial features and gigantic ruffles bore more than a passing resemblance to the works of Albert Gleizes and Picasso.
In many cases the models were mere vehicles used to exhibit the pieces, their faces completely hidden behind the colossal façades of the designs. Simple black ankle boots allowed the construction to do the talking.