THE SOPHISTICATED LADY
Paris — Those who think fashion has to be edgy and trendy need not apply chez Valentino. His vision has always been clear and consistent: making beautiful clothes for well-heeled women. But the collection he showed Monday was both great looking and newsy, offering inventive mixes of fabrics, a stab at the New Length and evening clothes that were extravagant but not grandiose.
Conservative Chic is where Valentino has always put his stamp, so he feels right at home with the polite winds now wafting through Paris. In fact, this was a relatively subdued Valentino collection, with few accessories and hardly any ribbons and bows.
What it had was elegant clothes delivered with remarkable diversity and a crystal-clear message: Conservative and dull don’t have to be synonymous. Mixes of herringbone and lace or pale satin and tweed are hardly ho-hum, and Valentino sometimes heightened the contrast by putting tailored jackets over shirred bustiers. At the heart of the collection was an abundance of great suits. Valentino often favored a relaxed silhouette, with squarish jackets in meaty woolens or mohairs over slim skirts or dresses. For the woman who’d rather be a little more overt, there were also sleek, curvy fits. And he showed his sporty side in bright, bold jackets over khaki pants and a great navy peacoat. Which is all well and good — very good.
But just because discretion is PC doesn’t mean Val’s gals spend their evenings at quilting bees; a lady still has to go out at night. If she’s smart, she’ll steer clear of his dowdy tunics over pants and opt for another gussied-up conservative classic — the cashmere sweater. Valentino turned it into glorious evening dresses, either piped with thin satin bands or combined with ethereal mists of lace. But even Val knows that Conservative Chic isn’t for everyone. And his fuchsia vixen numbers with trapunto-stitched bust action should suit ladies with flashier tastes.