Valentino’s Roman Marvels – The New York Times

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ROME — The couture reveals got here to an finish not in Paris however in Rome, with a river of gold ballroom chairs connecting the Piazza di Spagna on the foot of the Spanish Steps — essentially the most well-known people-watching and -posing staircase in Europe — to Piazza Mignanelli, the place the Valentino headquarters stand.

Twenty-three years after he joined the model within the purse division, Pierpaolo Piccioli, now Valentino’s inventive director, wished to convey his assortment dwelling to the place it started, to supply one thing of a treatise about historical past, humanity and what occurs subsequent. That it got here within the type of garments merely raised the stakes.

“For me, more than ever, beauty is a power,” he had mentioned a number of days earlier than, throughout a preview in his Paris atelier. “I don’t want to reflect the ugliness of a world where democracy is denied.” His job, he mentioned, was to current another.

However you realize: Don’t inform, present. So he did.

In a Rome nearing sundown, friends well-known and in any other case milled round their seats taking selfies in a rainbow of Valentino plumage. Anne Hathaway tottered by in a fuchsia sequined minidress and towering platforms from the newest ready-to-wear collection. Andrew Garfield was in a symphony of blue. One girl wore the lime inexperienced fashion that Melania Trump had worn to the ultimate night of the Republican Nationwide Conference in 2020. On the high of the steps, the Trinità dei Monti church virtually glowed within the final of the night mild. Across the sq., neighbors frolicked of their home windows to see what was occurring.

Then the fashions started to descend, greater than 100 of them, strolling down the various steps worn easy after almost three centuries by the legions who got here earlier than. Mr. Piccioli had conceived of the gathering as a dialog between himself and Valentino Garavani, the founding father of the model (who retired in 2008 and who, at 90 years previous, didn’t attend the present), instructed within the language of aesthetics.

The roses that had been one in all Valentino’s signatures had been there, however this time whorled right into a three-dimensional puffball atop a sequined brief jumpsuit. Ditto the ruffles, which, in Mr. Piccioli’s palms, seemed extra like undulating waves, shifting within the air. And the purple that has been synonymous with the home — although Mr. Piccioli has expanded the palette to an eye-boggling excessive, so plum is teamed with chartreuse and white, amethyst with cherry and smoky quartz, a slithery column of silver with a splash of periwinkle.

Certainly, what this present made clear is simply how expansive his Valentino has grow to be: expansive in concepts and emotion; embracing all types of age, measurement and shade; way back tossing gender distinctions and just about all types of rigidity out the window. There’s nothing jaded or cynical about it.

One sweeping oatmeal-tone night coat, with a constellation of sparkles and the heft of royalty, was thrown over velvet drawstring shorts and a tank high embroidered with crystals. A gown completely encrusted in beading was reduce like a T-shirt. Big ruffled skirts had been paired with little cropped tops. Taffeta capes with Medici-sized puffed sleeves shrugged on like denim jackets: Oh, this previous factor?

It’s not immaterial that earlier than the present Mr. Piccioli supplied his fashions a selection of footwear — flats, kitten heels or stilettos tied on the ankle with a large bow — as a result of, he mentioned, he realized the slippery travertine steps had been fairly scary. Or that he invited greater than 100 vogue college students to attend. Or that, on the finish, when all of the fashions had been arrayed on the steps in a lush bouquet of feathers, taffeta and chiffon, he introduced out his whole workforce of petites mains to take a bow.

As soon as, couture was a closed world, seen to solely the only a few with the cash and connections to entry it. However this was a narrative instructed in a public place, with photographs made to resonate far past. As such, it was a blinding reminder, in an authoritarian time when all people is more and more hunkered down of their bunkers and their echo chambers, that generosity is a superpower all its personal.

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