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It is rare these days that the finale of a fashion show produces more than a lackluster smattering of applause. That's not to say that designers aren't wowing their audiences anymore, it's just that everyone is so busy filming and snapping photos with their phones that they physically can't clap as well. Which is another way of saying that it takes quite a lot for guests to detach themselves from their devices.
However, at Valentino on the penultimate day of Paris Fashion Week, just twenty-four hours until the end of a month of nonstop shows, fashion insiders stopped what they were doing and gave designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli not just a well-deserved round of applause, but a cheering standing ovation.
The collection was a slow burn of a show. The duo deliberately and methodically presented an exquisite lineup of ensembles that were inspired by the birthplace of man – Africa.
To a fantastic mélange of the soaring theme song from the film “Out of Africa" and the rhythmic beats of the African Tribal Drums Band the designers used the impressive talents of their atelier to create graphic ethnic designs that spoke of primitive beauty done in an exceedingly polished way.
Every inch of every look was impeccably done. From the black leather dresses covered in gold studs that echoed the look of tribal scarification or their white beaded polar opposite set down on shear tulle through the dresses crafted from color bands of raffia or the pleated goddess gowns fit for a modern day Nubian queen, the propositions were fiercely refined. They even found a way to make a tie-dye print look lush and luxe.
Nothing was left to chance and only executed at the highest levels. The elaborate patterns on the accessories were individually hand done by artisans, making each one a unique piece of luxury. And the addition of the highly expressive jewelry by Alessandro Gaggio added an extra layer of dramatic ancestral power to the show.
More prêt-a-couture than ready-to-wear, this collection never pandered or dumbed down its chosen theme. The respect the designers showed for the world's first craftsmen was palpable on the catwalk and took the breath away from quite a few front row guests.