courtesy of style

“We wanted to show people Rome through our eyes. The layers and layers of history which can exist even in one place, where ancient temples lie beneath buildings which have been used for centuries, even till today," said the Valentino duo, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli. The symbolism of the Valentino couture show, staged in the open air on a balmy evening in Rome, was almost epic in its scale and depth of emotion.

Though they typically close couture's abbreviated week in Paris, in the seven years since Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli took the reins at Valentino, they've rarely designed a collection that hasn't showcased their own Italian heritage in one way or another. This season, they brought their collection home.


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The day began with an exhibition of couture dresses from previous seasons hidden in the closed-to-the-public places all over the city that have inspired them. It was one spectacular venue after another. The Biblioteca Casanatense, a public library lined with thousands of books and a smell so evocative you could hardly forget it. An 1840 marble bath in a palazzo still in private hands. A third-century AD Mithraic grotto discovered in the 1930s. Walking out of the last stop on the tour, which was the painter Giorgio de Chirico's apartment-turned-museum, you wondered if the runway show itself would be able to measure up.


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There was no need to worry. With the sun setting on the ocher walls of the Piazza Mignanelli, and locals hanging out of the windows to take it in just like they did when Valentino himself staged shows in this square, the setting was as perfect as it gets. And the clothes were absolutely the location's equal. A few people grumbled about the emphasis on black, but Chiuri and Piccioli had an answer for that. "Rome is just a little bit noir, a little sinister," Piccioli said. In any case, there was nothing plain about the black pieces, especially not when they were accompanied by Alessandro Gaggio's striking gold pendant necklaces. Leather flowers trellised a sheer tulle cape, while minuscule beads added substance to a lace gladiator minidress. And the repeating arch motif on a floor-length, double-face wool and velvet cape? Straight off the Colosseum's walls.


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An eagle, a symbol of imperial Rome, clutched a red ribbon in its beak on the collection's first dress. It was the same bird that contractors found on the ceiling of the house's Roman atelier during its recent renovation. What a metaphor. There were ancient symbols all over the collection, from the wheat stalks on a golden lace dress to the griffin embroidery on a floor-length poncho. But you didn't need to be a historian to appreciate just how ravishing it all was, or to feel the connection between the couturiers and this city. By the time Chiuri and Piccioli rounded the wooden set on their victory lap, the whole crowd had stood for an ovation.

Stepping Down

Jade Jagger

Gigi H


Jul 10, 2015