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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.

Suzy Menkes in Milan: Valentino Couture

To Rome, With Love

16 Июля 2015

A noble Valentino coat - a perfect fit with a religious aura looking out on Rome’s Piazza Navona
A noble Valentino coat - a perfect fit with a religious aura looking out on Rome’s Piazza Navona

Which was the more spectacular Roman vision? The timeless cloak in the colour of ancient stone, set against a serene blue sky? Or the dress displayed beside a pair of fencers sparring? Perhaps it was the installation of a long dress in the Villa Medici, under the cupola that inspired it? 

Exhibition of original Valentino
Exhibition of original Valentino

After using these gems of Rome as a backdrop to Valentino designs, came the mesmerising beauty and grace of the high-fashion Valentino show. It was held outdoors in the Piazza Mignanelli, near the Spanish Steps — and in front of Valentino’s original fashion palazzo. 

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Dress displayed in the library

Dress displayed in the library

The Romans call it a Temple of Fencing and jousters still learn in the ancient building. The swords and guns on the walls inspired the Valentino duo last season.

The Romans call it a Temple of Fencing and jousters still learn in the ancient building. The swords and guns on the walls inspired the Valentino duo last season.


The show that creative directors Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli sent out was — like its fashion “treasure hunt” of nuggets of Roman history — a love letter to the Eternal City. 

Ambience
Ambience

“It’s our Rome that we love,” chorused the duo as they greeted friends and clients at a dinner in the candle-lit gardens of the Villa Aurelia. There, Valentino Garavani, the epitome of elegance in a white suit, sat with Gwyneth Paltrow in scarlet. Hers was a daring fashion choice, given that three-quarters of the show was black — although the texture and workmanship shaded dark with light. 

Ambience
Ambience

The designers described the two-day event, which included the opening of a bold new store, as an ode to Rome, “our Rome” as they put it. “Magical, secret and unexpected — a harmony of contrasts that has endured for millennia”, was the story line. But the entire Roman experience was more than that: it was an affirmation of exquisite craftsmanship at the heart of “Alta Roma”, Rome’s haute couture fashion week. 

Ambience
Ambience

I had so much enjoyed the whimsical dash around the city in a buggy that my mind was full of Maria Grazia and Pierpaolo’s inspirations, drawn from the ancient books lining the 18-century Casanatense Library. I was remembering the sight of 2014 Valentino couture on display among the colourful stage costumes and vivid floor covers in the storage of Rome’s Teatro dell’Opera. But nothing had prepared me for the subtlety of the collection, with its touches of tribal adornment and a faint perfume of Dolce Vita decadence. 

Ambience
Ambience

The silhouette was long and elegant — a look that the “new” Valentino couple has introduced. But the delicacy of the dresses spoke for the art of couture: spider’s-web lace with just a flash of skin in feet slipped into flat sandals. The designers played with the sensuality of the back as dresses turned to show thin straps undulating over bare flesh. 

Carlos Souza, Brand Ambassador, Valentino
Carlos Souza, Brand Ambassador, Valentino

The shapes did not draw only on nuns’ habits and courtly grandeur. There were also short lace dresses, grounded by Roman sandal straps winding up the leg. They appeared, too, when hyper-sophisticated shades of black morphed into more historic-seeming pieces, dense with rich velvet or satin armour plates. When I studied the programme notes afterwards, I realised that that particular dress had taken 900 hours of work. 

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Suzy with Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli Creative Directors of Valentino

Suzy with Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli Creative Directors of Valentino

Suzy and Alber Elbaz with Maria Grazia Chiuri and her husband Paolo

Suzy and Alber Elbaz with Maria Grazia Chiuri and her husband Paolo


By the time that the colour arrived — three-quarters through — it was in rich red or bright gold, giving the suggestion of historic grandeur but the lightness of modernity. The jewellery was one example of this effect: chains and delicate headpieces that were pretty, not pompous. 

Suzy & Gwyneth
Suzy & Gwyneth

Why was the show so admired that the audience leapt to its feet and a few wiped away tears? It was because in our cookie-cutter fashion world, where everything comes down to the lowest price, here were designers who elevated their art to where couture should proudly stand. 

Gwyneth and Valentino
Gwyneth and Valentino

Maria Grazia and Pierpaolo also focused on their vision of the city — their Rome. The result was personal in its vision and unique in its craft and rare beauty. 



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еще в разделе Suzy Menkes

Suzy Menkes in Milan: Valentino Couture

Gaultier Sails Away

Suzy Menkes at Couture: Day Four

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