Céline Dion wears her heart on her sleeve — and held her hand on her chest and seemed to hold her breath as Giambattista Valli’s puffball finale gowns — which seem to get bigger every season — ambled by. She rose to her feet clapping at the end of the show, thrusting two thumbs up for Valli, who came over to shake her hand. He had her almost from the word go. Her eyes widened when British violinist Charlie Siem, as handsome as a matinee idol, strolled out playing Eugène Ysaÿe “Violin Sonata No. 2,” setting an emotional tone for the display.
Suffice to say that the designer has a new fan.
To be sure, Dion took in a daring, strong and varied collection from Valli, who eased up on his flower obsession and explored new territory, demarcating babydolls and puffballs alike with cages of crystal. He also put his heart into sleeves: big bulging meringues of satin; flapping petals of ruffled organza; billowing bells of chiffon; laterns iced with ruffles like a wedding cake, and multiple puffs in silk taffeta — sometimes three down one arm, four down the other.
These sleeves, often in contrasting colors and fabrics, added drama and a graphic punch to the short, pert and gently flaring dresses, the dominant silhouette. While a few came printed with delicate handkerchief florals, many were plain, leaving the stage to the sleeves, or long black tulle trains suspended on a grosgrain ribbons at the Empire level.
Long, dreamy chiffon columns in blush shades felt like new territory for Valli, and they were lovely. Some came gently pleated or draped, others with built-in capes. All seemed fit for a diva.