Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli drew inspiration from the opera — more specifically, the Rome Opera — after visiting its ateliers last summer. Struck by its “traditions and techniques that are very close to the world of couture,” said Piccioli backstage, the designers decided it was the story “of Italy we want to tell.” Their spring collection was beautiful, grand and romantic, less obviously about music and the stage than elite culture and Roman heritage, a perfect foil for their fabric work and exquisite craftsmanship.
Chiuri and Piccioli revisited the folkloric motifs of past collections, lavish embroideries in ornate geometries and color combinations that glowed against black tulle dresses. The signature silhouette — high-neck, long sleeves and a nipped waist — was adjusted to reflect a gladiator sensibility with short, widely pleated skirts. Similar shapes came in medallion prints and elaborate lace work, and some gowns were done in thick panels that splayed into tulle pleats. The designers have successfully carved a niche out of that chicly chaste dress shape, which remains appealing and unique in the market, for now. Gorgeous though it was, the signature is beginning to confine the collection.
Bohemian extravagance was a dominant motif, worked for day in suede tunics with fringe details and cropped animal-print pants, and underscored by the standout accessories: flat gladiator sandals and gold zodiac medallions that were tightly looped around the models’ necks. But Chiuri and Piccioli broke up the embellishment with minimal moments. A solid black romper, for example, and a long, sparely cut emerald gown were a nice intermission between operatic grandeur.