“It’s eccentric, one of a kind, extra-ordinary,” said Giambattista Valli, explaining his collection backstage at his show, as he embraced Lee Radziwill (impeccable in his sable-trimmed camel coat) and Yaqi (flamboyant in his flower-embroidered organdy ballet skirt, sapphire hoops, and electric blue shaded glitter nails). “In fact, what I like in women!”
Valli was drawn to a mesmerizing collection of eighteenth-century Indian tantric meditation pictures shown in the last Venice Biennale—their hallucinogenic colors and motifs a starting point for the mix of hues, textures, and patterns in his collection, and their central eclipsed circle motifs reappearing as embellishment on linear tunic tops (and the runway’s carpet). “Hypnotic. Magic. Kaleidoscope” read the mantras on the board to which he had pinned those images, and there was a lot going on in the mixes of surface treatments—thick cotton lace; woven textiles with a seventies-upholstery feel; sequins; spongy wool crepe—and the idiosyncratic color mixes that saw broad bands of teal blue, rose pink, ruby, and silver sequins on a black wool balmacaan, for instance, or a band of garnet fur circling a tank top on a white wool miniskirt suit traced with a print of black contour lines.
For the show, each girl had her own hair and makeup look, and that individuality reflected the clothes, which ran the gamut from the sleek sixties tunic and pattes d’éléphant pants (a look Valli has been championing for some time and that has swept the runways this season) often embellished with sequin embroidery that suggested freeform sixties Cardin body jewelry, through flower-power maxi dresses, to frothy little confections of thick cotton lace, organdy ruffles, and fragile traceries of print, their girly romance counterpointed with wicked knee-high black suede boots with cross-lacing running from top to toe.
“Sometimes you don’t have just an inspiration,” as Valli explained, “it’s just a point of view. But I’m very eclectic.”