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Suzy Menkes

Vogue International Editor Suzy Menkes is the best-known fashion journalist in the world. After 25 years commenting on fashion for the International Herald Tribune (rebranded recently as The International New York Times), Suzy Menkes now writes exclusively for Vogue online, covering fashion worldwide.

Valentino: It’s Zoolander!

Suzy Menkes at Paris Fashion Week: Day Eight

11 Марта 2015


So after all the richly patterned dresses, the black and white geometrics, the casual opulence of a thick sweater over a patterned skirt, here comes a smart figure in a tailored blue coat to end the Valentino show. 

Whaaaaaat! It’s Ben Stiller. Ben Stiller! Doing his Zoolander thing. And there, on the parallel runway is someone in softly patterned silk pyjamas — Owen Wilson, prepping with Stiller for the sequel to the popular fashion-world spoof from 2001. 


Backstage, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli, the Valentino designers, explained that the sequel was set to be filmed in Rome, the city where the label’s founder established his fashion house in the Sixties. 

As I looked at the mood board, I had another wild moment. There was a photo of Sigmund Freud’s couch, and the cover of his book, The Interpretation of Dreams. 

Whatever thoughts the designer duo had — hosting a movie star on the runway, or realising their own dreams — they gave a very fine show. 


The storyline, told in weave, colour and streamlined cut, came in various segments: first black-and-white geometry and then those plain black dresses, but less nun-like than in some earlier Valentino collections. 

Soon, intense patterns appeared with red as the primary colour, framed in lace. 


The designers said they had two inspirations: Emilie Louise Flöge, a couturier and life companion to Gustav Klimt; and Celia Birtwell, with a similar profile as textile and fashion designer, and the wife of consummate Swinging Sixties designer Ossie Clark. The Valentino pair had already collaborated with Birtwell for their Pre-Fall 2015 collection. Here, her flat flowers and butterflies are given an intense shimmer with metallic thread. 


The show could be described as reality versus dreams. A series of slender black or white dresses that flanked the beginning and the end, contrasted with the dense decoration. 


It was hard not to classify a fur coat put together with blocks of fiery ginger and cinder grey as anything but haute couture. And that was equally true of a quilted satin coat of many colours. 

Some of the evening dresses with their minute workmanship and dense patterns had an unearthly glow that put them in the category of dreams — whether visually or metaphorically. 


This Valentino ability to turn fantasy into reality was as mesmerising as seeing those pop-up stars from the movies.


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