Paris Haute Couture Day Four: Valentino’s Ode to Individuality

Take “Medea” by director Pier Paolo Pasolini, the elegance of the Armenian women with their beautiful folk headgear, add a touch of Mongolian and Egyptian traditions mixed with a bourgeois Parisian lady from the Seventies and some Chinese paintings and decorations, and the dream by Pierpaolo Piccioli at Valentino Haute Couture is served. 

Valentino Fall/Winter 2019 Haute Couture show in Paris. Photo by Alessandro Garofalo for NOWFASHION.

The collection by the designer was opulent and precious and it was an ode to individuality, enhancing the beauty and values of diversity between human beings. Each personal point of view became a treasure, a culture maker that added quality to life. Every single look of the show was a different entity with its own story, and the alternation of daywear, eveningwear, and “dreamwear” created a mind-boggling result for the adoring audience. Moving away from the first look and analyzing the collection, it was sublime when Piccioli played with materials and surfaces – keeping the silhouette simple, yet surprising, with the combination of perfect hues and different fabrics and layers; to mention one: the cotton and silk turquoise jacket with electric blue crêpe pantacourt and antique rose mohair chaps. But his work become a bit too literal when it switched from fashion to costume, quoting the masters from Rome's cinema ateliers, primarily Piero Tosi’s wardrobe made in 1969 for Maria Callas in “Medea” by Pier Paolo Pasolini: the head pieces made with brass studs, pendants, and fabric here with Armenian and Chinese influences. The folk element was very strong even if well included as here and there the light touches of different imaginary travels in the most far away places of space and time brought the observer along on the journey.

Jean Paul Gaultier Fall/Winter 2019 Haute Couture show in Paris. Photo by Guillaume Roujas for NOWFASHION.

The Jean Paul Gaultier Haute Couture show was a hallucinogenic and hypnotic trip with a  2000s disco soundtrack where 59 exaggerated passages threw the audience into an engaging high-octane show. The collection was an alternation of sharp and relatively simple outfits with over-the-top extreme looks. On one side, there was camel, ivory, and black wool for tailored coats and jackets with oversized lapels that become ornamental collar pieces high above the head. Then the simplicity gave way to a crescendo of decorations starting from the collaboration with the Vasarely Foundation using the famous optical motifs of Victor Vasarely, the Hungarian-French artist and painter: the “Zebra” and the “Vega 200” masterpieces were used as prints, going back to the “Cavalières et Amazon des temps moderns” collection that the designer did in 1995. Gaultier stopped the time and his work looks as if it is hanging in a moment, that it’s yesterday, today, and tomorrow all together, but it’s important to reconnect with today to move toward the future and not be stuck in the past.

Viktor & Rolf Fall/Winter 2019 Haute Couture show in Paris. Photo by Guillaume Roujas for NOWFASHION.

Viktor & Rolf are among the very first and few designers that talk about sustainability in the Haute Couture circle. This season, the duo from Amsterdam went into conscious design partnering with the Dutch artist-alchemist and sustainability pioneer Claudy Jongstra. Her felts are handmade masterpieces made with the wool she produces from her sheep herd and are coloured with all natural ingredients extracted from her gardens. 21 outfits showed a kind of pagan queen that wandered in the hall wearing felt coats and gowns mixed with colourful deconstructed and rebuilt dresses made with Viktor & Rolf fabrics. This holistic approach was very innovative here, but actually also very wise. The world, and fashion (as one of the major harmful industry for the environment), are facing the changes in the weather and climate, so it will happen that also the uber rich Haute Couture society must start to consider this topic for a discussion, even if it’s clear that, on the other hand, recycling and re-using don’t equate to new and precious pieces, but it can be undoubtedly unique. So if in Prêt-à-Porter the discussion is now very hot, here there is still hesitancy. Viktor & Rolf have always been pioneers, so this collection potentially marks the beginning of a new chapter.