The fashion industry is always in a state of flux. Trends are usually the topic of conversation but there is always a nervous wait when a creative director leaves a fashion house. That was certainly the case for Valentino when Maria Grazia Chiuri left to lead the team at Christian Dior, and in one foul swoop she ended her design partnership with Pierpaolo Piccioli. There was some uncertainty as to whether Piccioli would be still suited to the job, with many unsure as to where Chiuri’s role ended and his began. Everyone’s fears were soon put to rest, and the fashion industry breathed a collective sigh of relief after Piccioli unveiled his first solo collection one sunny afternoon at Paris Fashion Week. Spring 2017 has all the hallmarks of a collection inspired by the renaissance, with Piccioli an avid researcher and his mind transforming thoughts of high necklines, peasant dresses and modest hemlines into something more romantic. Hues of blush, magenta, red and rose were the stars of the show, second only to the mouth-watering pink tapestry coat and tan fur coat. As much as I love outerwear, I can’t stop thinking about the dresses.
There are few things in this world more beautiful than a beautifully made dress, something which Piccioli can also appreciate. Motifs borrowed from mother nature, including birds and plants were among the many motifs which graced the runway. From head to toe each model was a vision of simplistic beauty, with pink suede slippers and velvet sandals the shoe of choice. While this might seem inconsequential, it’s not very often flats are shown with eveningwear and even rarer to see a designer at the forefront of such change. Think about it, how social media respond to a celebrity walking the red carpet of the Met Gala in a pair of flats, rather than heels. For many it would be unimaginable, and as inconceivable as the micro-mini crossbody bags that also appeared on the Valentino runway. Each purse is no bigger than a box of cigarettes, which begs the question what kind of woman would carry such a small satchel but in terms of aesthetic, I like many others was completely smitten.
You won’t often hear me applaud a designer on showing constraint- while I recognise that it’s an important dynamic and principle within creative fields, it’s not something which I personally live by. But from what we’ve seen of Piccioli’s first solo collection, we can come to expect great things by way of outlandish outerwear and well-tailored trousers paired with plain white crisp shirts. Whilst many are still discussing the arrival of Maria Grazia Chiuri at Dior, and what to the future holds for the house’s first female creative director let’s not overlook Piccioli. There’s promising signs of growth and maturity (something to be fully expected when one has to bear the brunt of any workload, whatever the industry and occupation). An unexpected element was the influence of British designer Zandra Rhodes, visited by Piccioli and an assistant during the development of Spring 2017. The surprise collaboration saw Valentino integrate prints by Rhodes, who was their showing her support and sitting in the front row. While she is more my cup of tea in terms of crazy patterns and prints, I loved how Piccioli artfully combined the two for Valentino.