Pleasure first: the Pre-Raphaelites inspire a collection that looks to the past to find the future – Susie Bubble reports
Using the past to question the future – it’s happened not once, not twice but three times this week, and it’s no simplistic trend. Haute couture is so rooted to the past and the weight of tradition that it’s natural that designers would want to look at the past to seek progression. Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Picciolo turned to the Pre-Raphaelites for inspiration, but hit upon their Ancient Roman roots for an investigation into classicism and timelessness, seen in the passages of virginal and austere gowns. As per last season, the duo are still seeking out a sort of reality in their couture output with this rekindled love of simplicity.
An oldie but a goodie. Michael Nyman’s famous “Heart Asks Pleasure First”, – aka the main theme from Jane Campion’s 1993 masterpiece The Piano – played repeatedly during the show. It’s a track that rouses and swells and was fitting for this purist vision of Valentino under Chiuri and Picciolo. It’s as the title of the track says – pleasure first, and here their atelier indulges in all kinds of aesthetic pleasures, from the simplest of column dresses to ornately appliqued and embroidered dresses.
Stand out pieces:
A patchwork tapestry skirt taken from 17th century Flanders, both original and reworked with gold thread, named in the press notes as 'The Lady of Shalott'. There were further Pre-Raphaelite vibes seen in the draped tulle gowns, a continuation from last season’s couture, and in a sheer dress embroidered with buttercups and clovers.
The soundtrack to Valentino Haute Couture AW14: