Rome is where the heart is for Maria Grazia Chiuri and PierpaoloPiccioli. A consistent and deep source of inspiration for the designers,their hometown culture has yielded some spectacular work, this fallcollection ranking near the top. Last season, they mined the Romanopera; here, it was women of the late-Sixties Roman art scene, includingCarol Rama, Carla Accardi and Giosetta Fioroni, the last the onlyfemale member of the Scuola di Piazza del Popolo, or Italian Pop Art.That movement was very different from American Pop Art, as the designerspointed out backstage. “American Pop speaks about Coca-Cola,” saidChiuri. “For us, it’s very normal to speak about Michelangelo.”

The runway proved a broad thematic umbrella. It covered bothschools of Pop as well as the idea of the individualist spirits of theartists and a whiff of Sixties Mod — and early Valentino — that playedout in a beautiful display of craftwork and rich detail. The show openedwith optical dots in combinations of pink, black, white and red,arranged in striking vertical patterns on a slim leather jacket and afitted sweater worn over a fringed leather skirt. Then came Mod-ishversions of Chiuri and Piccioli’s long-sleeve dress silhouette, thistime with flared skirts and stiff shirt collars. Things went light andloose in a minimalist bohemian moment of solid silk dresses withgathered waists and caped backs — a palette cleanser before thedesigners delved into some exceptionally rich treatments.

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