Since taking over at Valentino, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli have given the label an almost iconic look—the vision of a romantic woman dressed in layers of lace, brocade and texture that has traveled from Italian opera houses to the plains of Africa. For the Spring 2016 couture collection, the designers drew inspiration from early 20th century designer Mariano Fortuny and played off of his ideas of Grecian myth, turning yesterday’s runway into a parade of sartorial goddesses.
Models walked barefoot along the petal-strewn runway outfitted in golden harnesses and serpentine crowns. Sheer dresses were embroidered with butterfly wings, trimmed in layers of velvet brocade or hand-painted with Grecian iconography. Some of the most exceptional pieces featured velvet appliqués cut from brocade that were resewn onto sheer bodices or velvet strips that were cut then woven into netted dresses.
The silhouette was familiar territory for Valentino—floor-length gowns, flowing trains and A-line shapes—but with the influence of Fortuny, the bodices took on a different structure. Delphos-style dresses were among the most popular cuts, and straps were knotted at the top of the shoulders or down backs, which were kept almost entirely bare. For the collection of eveningwear, sparkle was used sparingly, but fabric was used excessively, allowing the skirts to billow out and give new shape to the piece with each movement.