When Giambattista Valli launched his collection for H&M in November, thousands were able to buy into a world previously reserved for socialites and A-listers. There was even a version of the hot pink gown with gigantic train that Jennifer Lopez wore on the red carpet.
On Monday night, hundreds of people stood in line at the Jeu de Paume museum in Paris for a glimpse of Valli’s spring haute couture collection — the exclusive made-to-measure creations available to a handful of wealthy women, and almost never displayed outside of museum exhibitions.
The designer had published an open invitation on social media, and some 1,000 people answered the call. Inside the white-walled museum, an explosion of color awaited, with 34 evening looks displayed on mannequins.
Open-door policy aside, the collection itself was as aspirational as they come. Valli took his cue from style icons like Jackie Kennedy, Lee Radziwill and Marella Agnelli — part of Truman Capote’s famous coterie of Swans.
Think a lime-green tunic covered in oversize crystallized flowers; a nude tulle bustier gown with a big pouf of a skirt sprouting yellow feathers, or a virginal column of sheer white flowers bonded on transparent PVC. Most of the looks were topped with face-framing feathered coifs and masks.
Valli made sure to include his signature tulle showstoppers, including a zingy yellow gown with a train the size of a living room. If you thought that nobody dresses like that anymore, think again — or check out the Instagram feeds of Lauren Santo Domingo, Bianca Brandolini and Giovanna Engelbert, who also attended the event.
“It’s not that some people still live in that — some people are getting back to living that way,” Valli said. “I think it’s very much about the next step and the future. I think the hoodie, the jogging did their time. You can still wear them, but I think that people want to start to dress and to have the art of living.”
He noted people in regions like Asia and the Middle East were looking for “extraordinary” things. The queue out the door suggested they’re not alone.