From the very first exit at the Valentino show it was clear that the designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli were trying something different. Gone was the sweetness of past seasons filled with dresses designed with fresh faced young ingénues and debutants in mind. This time the creamy lace outfits and blush pink fabrics had been replaced by deep navy, rich golden hues and tapestry-like brocades.
This Valentino woman was the mature older sister of the girls who had graced the catwalk in past shows. She had traded in the sugar sweet charms of youth for something more sophisticated and complex. Desire was built from what could not be seen. Dresses cut to cover the body from wrist to ankle. Hair scrapped back flat against the head in a severe bun. Flat toed high heels crafted to echo the rigorous pointe shoes of a ballet dancer.
There was a potent energy about this show that explored the idea of cutting outfits to cover the body but at the same time using transparent fabrics to hint at the skin below. From the first outfit, a see through pleated silk chiffon dress with opaque crepe de Chine inserts, to the final exit, a midnight blue velvet gown embellished with a central column cut out of jet beadwork, this was a collection that focused on delayed gratification.
And the designer succeeded in giving its audience exactly that sensation: just after the show finished there was a feeling of frustration in the venue as if the designers had been leading on the audience only to rebuff it at the last minute. But now, after the heat of the moment has died down, the collection has proven itself to be one of the most complex and stirring the designers have ever done.