Valentino Surprises with a New Woman

Pierpaolo Piccioli at Valentino finally dared, and the result was striking. "I wanted to picture the reality in its whole without writing any manifestos about inclusivity", explained the designer the morning before the show. "I think that talk about categories is pointless; I see humanity in its whole with the same rights and without boundaries and limitations. That's why I explored the uniform as a unifying element that cancels the appearance and shows everyone's personality. There were elements of last men's collection, which I used also for the women as a common dialogue between the sexes. I wanted to go behind the co-ed, without any categorization. I observed that frequently young generations have a unconcerned approach to gender and, as they represent our future, I'm convinced that this is the way to approach it". Piccioli explored new femininity more sharp and durable, yet sensual. The tailoring was pivotal, and it was dissected and reassembled adding couture touches: for example, the classic peacoat had a shawl collar that added a girly dose. Tweeds, herringbone wools were used to redesign the classics of men's wardrobe, the suit became a tailleur with female constructions. "In the 80s women needed to dress up as men to prove their talent, now my woman is self-confident, and she can be feminine and leader at the same time", explained. "She can wear deep slitted seductive skirts, long evening chemisier, embroidered or skin-tight sequined dresses without losing her confidence and strength". This collection surprisingly switched from the past flamboyant romance to a more daily and down to earth woman which is loyal to a simple palette and straightforward attitude that lead her to choose a lot of leather pieces without fear. It seemed that the designer realized that he was a bit stuck in the regal imagery he invented, but that was becoming a sort of golden cage. Wisely, he did a u-turn and surprised us again. Let's call this talent.

"I was inspired by the glamour of the Nouvelle Vague movies", said backstage Clare Waight Keller, Creative Director at Givenchy after the show. "I was also fascinated by pioneer performance artists as the Portuguese Helena Almeida and Italian Ketty La Rocca which put their body in the middle of their artist language". The designer placed the accent on the body and its expressions, working with the Maison sartorial heritage. This time it was she exaggerated her silhouette and accentuated shoulders on coats, jackets and capes.  However, the artists' experimentations of movements and forms were symbolized in the fluid printed dresses and sculptured knit. The collection was glamourous and the women proposed by Waight Keller, yet a bit disconnected appeared sophisticated both in the day and the night looks. The vast hats, the tailoring dresses recalled the beauty of the late 50s and 60s in the shapes. The outerwear was very charming and perfect for those women who like to be noticed when they walk in the room. 

Satoshi Kondo, Creative Director at Issey Miyake, conceived his collection by the onomatopoeic analysis of Japanese words that describe acts of making processes. Toritori (the state of being different), Konekone (kneading), Goshigoshi (smudging), Kukkiri (the condition of being sharp and clear), spah (the sound of cutting something with a sharp object) are some of the words that are used in the colloquial language to describe these manual actions, and that the designer used to create the collection.  The graphic black and white opening look seemed cut out with scissors and recalled the A-Poc (A Piece of Cloth) project as were the printed looks that seemed painted or applied as decals onto fabrics. The convertible dresses and padded watches were very Miyake heritage-related and interpreted interestingly. The collection appeared contrasted, as the sharp graphic opening outfits and the padded zipped looks were very modern and new, but all the layerings looked like a bit outdated. Kondo's work is injecting the brand of fresh blood, and the direction seems to be the right one, but then it's essential to dare into new aesthetic territories to lead the brand in a new era.

For the first time in career, Thom Browne hosted a co-ed show where both men and women were wearing the same outfits. Even if the presentation was still stuck in the usual theatrical form which sounds a bit outdated, this time the couple game perfectly fitted in the performance as the story of Noah's Ark inspired it. The animals of the Bible's Genesis narrative turned out to be bags designed in 33 different models, and every couple was identical wearing all the classic pieces of Browne repertoire from trench coats and jackets to capes, from trousers and pleated skirts to draped skirts, oxford shirts and neckties. This time the silhouette felt newer as it was elongated with boxy jackets with sharp shoulders. This collection let the American designer explore a new way of the fluidity of genders using the same clothes for both sexes. Although the show has been engaging, the message risked to be a bit too literal and, performances apart, not so useful. The craftsmanship of each outfit is incredibly high (the quilting above everything), but most of the time the showpieces are rarely produced. On the reverse, it would be challenging for the designer to get out of this show formula and experiment again with a collection with real clothes where he could surprise with a new version of his incredible tailoring skills.

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