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Valentino AW15 Dazed runway womenswear Ben Stiller Zoolander
Valentino AW15

Valentino AW15 + live stream

“It felt like it had to happen. It was pre-destined” – the defining male models of our generation speak out on fashion week’s ultimate plot-twist

Initial reaction:

By now, everyone will have seen/regrammed/retweeted what was the most social media savvy moment of fashion month as Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson walked it off giving their best Blue Steels (no Magnum alas) to an overexcited FROW. Stiller even grabbed a phone from Vine star Jerome Jarre and started doing a video selfie. What preceded this outrageously fun finale though was a collection that found modernity in bygone muses from two very different eras – Emilie Louise Flöge, the pioneering couturier who was Gustav Klimt’s muse and Celia Birtwell, wife of designer Ossie Clark and muse of David Hockney. They’re both women who were artists themselves and inspired those around them and so a collection of epic proportions played out running a broad gamut from stark monochrome to eclectic bohemia. 

Unconventional Women:

Let’s not allow Derek and Hansel to overshadow what was yet another masterful collection that mined facets of two contrasting muses, incidentally from two epochs that designers are fixated upon – late Victorian/Edwardian and the 1970s. By looking at the culturally vibrant times of Flöge in turn-of-the century Vienna and Birtwell in Swinging London, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli found a harmony between these facets in black and white geometry, dulled pastel lace and felt appliques and a floral and butterfly print that was created by Birtwell herself. The opulence of Klimt’s paintings showed up as metallic flecks on furs and in a mottled and scalloped gold lace gown – one of many that paraded in this mammoth collection of eighty-two looks. Birtwell’s heyday gave way to folkloric and ethereal geo-floral appliques and embroidery work that the house has been known for. The talking point may be the finale but the duo has the last word with the clothes.

The fun in fashion:

It surprised many that Valentino – a house that isn’t about being “so hot right now” but about crafting clothes that extoll virtues of timeless beauty – would pair up with Paramount Pictures to announce the Zoolander sequel in such a sensational way. Chiuri said after the show that what they do is serious but that they should be able to have some fun too. This surprise move certainly showcases an irreverent side to the duo and also to Valentino. Perhaps it's an indication that the forthcoming sequel is about celebrating fashion as well as poking fun at it given the way they've taken this opportunity to collaborate with the fashion establishment – see Anna Wintour posing happily with Wilson and Stiller.

At an intimate afterparty at the Hôtel Salomon de Rothschild, not unlike a scene that would be parodied in Zoolander, it was interesting that Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller both seemed to still be in character as they partook in Blue Steel selfies with fellow models. When asked he felt it was to do the walk off at the Valentino show, Wilson said in Hansel language, “It felt like it had to happen. It was pre-destined. As I was doing it it was like, ‘I’ve been here before…’” In contrast, this felt like unchartered territory for the Italian fashion stalwart as they showed that with one dramatic moment-of-the-month gesture, that fashion can be fun.