For his third couture outing, Giambattista Valli took a more daring path evident from the first exit — a rose-printed coat topped with two globes of organza ruffles.
If you’re an American football fan, you might think: linebacker shoulders. If fashion is more your game, the early collections of Dutch wizards Viktor & Rolf could spring to mind. Not that any designer has a particular claim on unusual volume. Valli has made that a hallmark of his signature brand, and in this collection he pushed his experiments further. Sculpted cocktail dresses flared out from the hip. Peplum jackets were fluffed up with layer upon layer of raw-edged organza. Stiff lasagna ruffles jutted out from the sides of dresses and gowns, while mambo swirls were sometimes stacked in layers around the neck.
Fantastical, too, was Valli’s forest-nymph mood, telegraphed by an array of botanical prints, some cut into petal or leaf shapes and embroidered onto dresses in dense clusters. Like exotic creatures, models’ heads and chignons were trapped in nets, a butterfly occasionally plugging the mouth. Autumnal shades ultimately yielded to vivid greens.
But there was no stemming the volumes. Dresses swelled along with the classical soundtrack, and some of the finale looks were as textured and bulbous as hedges. Judging by the sleek-chic Valli ensembles that the designer’s jet-set followers wore in the front row, many will surely choose his ethereal chiffon one-shouldered gowns, or ask for slightly less froth. That’s the beauty of couture.