Giambattista Valli had photos of Gabrielle Chanel and Janis Joplin pinned to his mood board backstage. As impossible conversations go, it’s a fascinating matchup to ponder and it yielded a sprightly and varied collection, spiked here and there with rock-chick flourishes. Dresses and skirts over pants were a new addition to the Valli couture canon, a logical extension to his tiered approach to design, wherein the bodice, the waist or hips, and the rest of the body are banded in different fabrics, textures and embroideries.
Exit three, in the black-and-white shades Coco always favored, was a simple stunner: a sleeveless silk shell etched with botanical embroideries, a band of black satin and a fog of point d’esprit flaring over silk crepe pants.
A cardiganlike jacket in silk cloque, or a handsome redingote in white lace, matched with more skirt-and-pant combos, were other obvious nods to the Rue Cambon.
Not that Valli was handcuffed to his two muses. He delivered his usual prettiness, scattering 3-D floral embroideries on slim columns of ivory guipure lace or black silk gazar, as well as on sculpted tunics that flared over the hips. A nude bodice trembling with pink petals looked arresting over a teacup skirt in ostrich feathers dyed the same shade of pale rose.
The show climaxed with more demonstrative flourishes, as dresses sprouted puffy sleeves and neck ruffs that Valli said winked to the Victorian blouses Joplin and her psychedelic ilk might have worn.
The pink ball gowns for the finale were the usual bulbous explosions of tulle and ruffles that made a great photo op grouped together on Valli’s carpeted runway.