While show notes are often inscrutable, those for Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli’s latest couture collection were particularly so, underscoring a lineup that — despite some bewitching moments of feminine grace — didn’t quite congeal into a harmonious whole.
The show opened on an architectural note: Spartan capes in fluid crepe worn over matching midnight blue evening dresses inset with undulating panels of sheer. While they looked simple, the first exit — in pleated chiffon and crepe de chine — required some 500 hours in the atelier.
The spare shapes and gull-wing necklines occasionally brought to mind Princess Leia (that is, if “Star Wars” went for a high-fashion look). The models’ barely there makeup and conical chignons heightened the minimalist, vaguely futuristic mood.
A grouping of jumpsuits followed, some stark, others intensely decorated, as in 100,000 jet beads on the pants alone. From there on, the show ping-ponged between out-and-out dazzlers and plainer Janes.
Chiuri and Piccioli mostly bypassed daywear this season and loaded the collection with night-at-the-opera ensembles, including sculpted coats in busy brocades. There were spectacular cardigans — a mini trend this couture season — extensively beaded, and with strips of fur hugging the shoulders. The design duo has a way with ethereal gowns, and there were a few in painterly botanical prints or embroideries that fluttered seductively.
As couture is a direct-to-consumer business, the Valentino variety show is unlikely to dent the Roman house’s current momentum. After all, who doesn’t appreciate a wealth of choice?