A tidy phrase could sum up the Valentino spring collection: pretty lace dresses. Entirely accurate, yet a little unfair. If narrow in focus, the lineup, which was one of Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli’s most impressive efforts yet, offered a range of exquisite nuance on a single note. There wasn’t a bad look in the lot.
The designers said they were thinking of Tina Modotti and Georgia O’Keeffe when they were at the drawing board. “Women that had a more personal kind of beauty, very sensual and sensitive,” Chiuri explained during a preview. “It’s all about organic textures but in a very simple shape with the memory of couture.”
The silhouettes — plain and ladylike with skirts that were either long and relatively straight or short and demurely flared — have become signatures for the house under Chiuri and Piccioli. Feminine but inherently modest in the cut of the neck and proper sleeves, here the dresses had a more pronounced romanticism. Skirts were loosened into peasant ruffles and pouffed shoulders that put a sweet, folkloric twist on the lineup.
The wow factor came in exquisite lace worked in every texture and scale imaginable: guipure, point d’esprit, big florals and small, some done like dots, others engineered into a frame pattern on a naïve short-sleeve dress. Black and blush tones made up the majority of the palette, but the duo cut it with brights, like a pop of neon pink and the perfect shade of crimson. Where they strayed from lace, it was in favor of leather that was pretty rather than tough, though it offered a nice tension.
If there was a bone to pick, it was that the collection excluded anyone whose dress code calls for something other than lace eveningwear. Styling everything with espadrilles and adorable flats, the models wearing their hair in elfin braids, was an attempt to cast the lineup in a casual, Bohemian light. But these dresses, with all their fancy flourishes, are considered day clothes to a select few. Lucky them.