Giambattista Valli’s Forward March
With two smart and deeply thought through shows for the spring/summer 2018 season, Giambattista Valli is on a high – although part of the success of his own label was that the heels were low. The flats shoes refreshed the show, making the models seem younger, while the venue, among the broken bones of an abandoned building, gave the event an edge.
For his contribution to Moncler Gamme Rouge, there was also a focus on flats – but they were dancing shoes for the Hiplet ballerinas from Chicago, who surprised the audience after rotating disco balls had, instead, suggested a fashion play on rock ‘n’ roll.
Since Giambattista has had an injection of financial support from Artémis, the holding company of the Pinault family, the designer does not have to build his fashion business on his own energy alone.
His confidence was palpable and in his namesake show it came through as young women walked out on the raw concrete floor. They looked pretty but purposeful, the separates broken open with frills here and glimpses of flesh there, but always with a sweet, young personality. A patterned sweater, cropped at the waistline over a mildly frilly skirt, was typical.
But behind the swinging hemlines and cascades of frills, was a genuine story: the love between artist Mario Schifano and aristocrat Nancy Ruspoli.
“It’s my romantic side – a love story about a young Roman princess and a working class political activist during the Seventies,” said the Italian designer, who had revealed his inspiration on Instagram.
In the bowels of a deconstructed building in the 17th Arrondissement, Valli had set up a mood board detailing the story in images and in fashion, as the aristocrat chopped off her hair, put on jeans and changed her look. As if the couple was walking from the palazzo to the artist’s vast studio, the story echoed through the raw and empty place where the show was held.
It always seems a privilege to enter into the mind of a designer. But what came though was a quirky prettiness with unfussy clothes – much more lightly decorated than in previous shows. The boho attitude of the Contessa had brought new and more interesting life to the clothes.
François-Henri Pinault and his wife Salma Hayek, sitting front row, received a brief bow from the designer, after he walked the room to powerful applause. Giambattista has come a long way from his densely decorated designs, while putting a great deal of couture technique into making things light. Yet it was those flat shoes that really made the difference, both telling the tale of a woman who had stepped down from her grand position for love – and how flats can make pretty clothes look purposeful.
Moncler Gamme Rouge – Sporty Glamour
Who knows how long the dynamic Giambattista Valli can carry on creating sportswear for Moncler Gamme Rouge? Let’s hope the show goes on, because the designer’s ability to bring glamour down-to-earth is one of his strong talents.
With the glitter balls blinking and swirling and the dancers in motion, it might have seemed like a disco was getting into swing. But Valli was smart enough to look in a different direction. How do these dancers dress when they are not performing?
With a sweater tied around the waist of a lace shirt, a feathery dress set against knee high woollen socks and white, red and blue stripes on a big coat, the suggestion was of ballet dancers going home, taking only a touch of magic with them on their journey.
The mix of fairytale frills and going-home jackets; of ballerina skirts over woollen sweaters produced a sporty wardrobe tinged with just a hint of disco glitter.