SET in the exquisite Hotel Salomon de Rothschild, Valentino’s autumn/winter 2014 couture show was a clear case of all roads lead to Rome.
Staged on a runway of tree trunk brown bark surrounded by living walls, the impact of Italy’s ancient city was clear, with Centurion nymphs – clad in flat gladiatorial sandals, barely-there yoga dresses, leather-belted tunics and the simplest middle-parted hair – whisking towards the photographer pit. But while this imbued a stripped-back, easy element, the collection was anything but.
Decadent layers appliquéd with black and gold sculpted flowers found in many a Roman fountain were in abundance; prints mirrored the tiles of the Vatican floor; and the girls themselves resembled the sculpted stone goddesses from the banks of the River Tiber, frozen in time and eternally elegant. And it wasn’t just an ode to the ancient Italian city, but to its traditions as well. Spliced-neck dresses and twinsets were covered in typical intrecciato weaves and intricate gold lacework showed off the skill and detail with which creative directors Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli work, always raising the bar, be it haute couture or ready-to-wear which, incidentally, this could in parts pass as.
Valentino Garavani himself – sandwiched front row between Kim Kardashian and Carine Roitfeld – was done proud tonight, in what was one of – if not the – most cohesive and well-executed shows this season. Utterly chic in its update of ancient icons, it was a sensational way to round off Couture Fashion Week.