Valentino: tribute to Maria Callas
Long live the diva, especially the grandest operatic diva of them all, Maria Callas, the true star of an opulent, grandiose, ravishing and perhaps self-indulgent haute couture collection presented Wednesday night in Paris.
The show effectively brought the curtain down on the five-day Paris season, as Thursday is devoted principally to high jewelry. And a glittering crowd of it-gals and aristocrats from Olivia Palermo to Natalia Vodianova took the places on pale ecru and unvarnished wooden Louis XVI chairs in the Salomon de Rothschild mansion in the ritzy VIII arrondissement.
With Callas in full-throated glory on the speakers, beginning with an aria by Puccini, the first models appeared with Big Big Hair, sweeping across the parquet in massive gowns.
It was a beautiful show and charming fashion expression. Yet one that felt a tad too rarefied, evoking a world few people inhabit anymore, but magnificent none the less. Rarely has a couture atelier performed with such consummate skill – and, the house’s couturier Pierpaolo Piccioli generously listed the name of each Valentino artisan after each look on which they worked.
From a remarkable Leda and the Swan coat made in Mikado, Lurex and faille intarsia that demanded 1,120 hours of loving labor from Alessandro and Julia to a Screen Goddess green paillette cape worn with pale yellow blouse in a beautiful color combination, a look named Liza Minnelli, courtesy of the skills of Elena and Maria. Perhaps most beautiful of all, a sumptuous elongated, floor sweeping cape in green, black and beige wool embroidered with the great Greek myth of Perseus and his winged horse Pegasus. Thanks to Federica R., Daniela and Cinzia.
Piccioli’s favorite final material was plissé taffeta, in bold shiny orange, fluorescent yellow and fuchsia, and rouched up and almost exploding into huge bouffant shapes. All gliding by on models with matching petal headgear. Classical, but with enough of a twist in their form to seem just right.
No wonder the couturier received such a rousing ovation at the finale, with prolonged cheers. Including the ultimate compliment; the house’s founder Valentino Garavani gave him a standing ovation. Now, how often does that ever happen at a couture show?
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