Giambattista Valli with models
"It's a thank you to Paris — the cradle of haute couture," said Giambattista Valli backstage among sweet-young-thing models wearing high-waist dresses strewn with pink flowers. It might have been an overdose of sugar, but the designer focused on "couture-light" — an ethereal vision of the dresses that bloomed in the Napoleonic era.
I wondered if Giambattista had seen the Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun exhibition — a recent show at Paris' Grand Palais — with its sweet and pretty portraits painted before and after the French Revolution. But "Giamba", as his fans call him, is just as likely to be inspired by his young European Society clients, sitting front row in pairs of friends or as sisters.
What marked out this collection was its sophistication and fine workmanship, done with a light hand: a coat with branches of roses fashioned out of fur; a scarlet ribbon as straps that tied below a minuscule bustline and, above, a cloud of chiffon; a sleeve ballooning into fullness; strappings of sandals criss-crossing the legs below short-and-sweet skirts.Is the world so innocent that these fairy-like creatures have any connection with reality?
The skill and the charm of Giambattista's work is that he makes you believe in this ethereal world. The concept of prettiness — seen in the floral paillettes, daisy embroidery and ruffled silk — is rare in current fashion. And a sombre, bruised Paris is in need of such solace - if just for one day.