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.
#SuzyPFW Valentino's Garden Of Earthly Delights
This major success for Pierpaolo Piccioli, left alone after his partner's departure to Dior, was helped by a collaboration with Zandra Rhodes
3 Октября 2016
The fragility of the dresses, the sweetness of the faces, the gentle spirit of the Valentino show won over the audience before more than a handful of outfits had hit the runway.
Yet the test was tough for Pierpaolo Piccioli as to how he would fair now that his design partner of more than two decades had departed. Maria Grazia Chiuri left the Italian house earlier this year for French Christian Dior and made an acceptable start with her first show on Friday.
Pierpaolo showed his strength as the romantic of the pair. For Valentino spring/summer 2017, he used a winning blend of historicism, Italian technique and the country's distant past, to make a collection that was clear in its message and simple in its vision. Pierpaolo wanted women to look beautiful.
And he had found an unlikely spiritual partner — Zandra Rhodes — the British designer whose hand-drawn patterns have been a perpetual inspiration in fashion since they first appeared in the 1970s.
“The idea of the Bosch painting was because I was seeking out that idea from the past," said the designer, who had on his mood board the original art work — Zandra's interpretations and pictures of her in the 1970s with bright fuchsia hair, an invention of the Punk period when to dye your hair pink really was shocking.
The result was historic and modern in equal measures, as a black dress appeared with bright pink inserts that looked like spears, as a prelude to the skirt's wider pinstripes. Then came other dresses, mostly ankle length, but fresh and summery — not at this stage precious evening pieces.
I asked the designer, who showed in the same grand building as previously, how he had coped with being left at Valentino as sole designer.
"I'm Italian," he continued, "and even if my idea of beauty comes from other countries, it's generally from the same moment of the late Middle Ages, because there was an evolution of culture.
So the designer, loving the delicacy of the painting, its fantastic imagery and detailed landscapes, asked Zandra to interpret Bosch in a new print, but still in the traditional way of Italian handcraft, not as digital prints.
It is important that Valentino, its Italian roots planted so long ago by the founder, keep the balance between global success and its historic and artistic Italian past. That showed in each dress. These were elements seen in previous collections that Pierpaolo was now re-drawing as his own.
Except that he had chosen Zandra to collaborate on a pattern on a pink georgette dress or one in yellow, lightly printed from bodice to floor. I picked up a pattern of cacti and palm trees on a shorter dress and some prints that looked like black markings straight off the drawing board.
After all this preparation, the show was a hit, with the audience cheering the designer's first show as a singleton. With Giancarlo Giammetti, Valentino's partner joining in the applause, I asked Zandra how she felt.
"He showed me the Hieronymus Bosch book and asked me to do interpretations that were then sent to Como (Italy's silk centre) and the embroiderers. He totally followed me and my drawings and I was so honoured to be on the storyboard. I hope I can work with Valentino again."