In Venice, Valentino as in a painting

By Maud Gabrielson

Posted today at 10:44 am

A dialogue between fashion and art. This is how Pierpaolo Piccioli, artistic director of the Valentino house, envisioned his fall-winter 2021-2022 haute couture collection, presented in the Gaggiandre of the Venice arsenal, on Thursday, July 15. These large arches, which housed the construction of boats during the Renaissance, house part of the exhibitions of the Architecture Biennale, which is held until November.

Called “Valentino des ateliers”, this collection is in part the result of numerous discussions between the Roman couturier and 17 contemporary artists. “I’ve been thinking about this particular collection for several months. For me, fashion is not art because it must always have a reflection on the body. However, the two disciplines are representations of the time, a unique form of expression ”, explains Pierpaolo Piccioli, who we meet in the Parisian premises of Valentino, a few days before the Venetian parade.


Italians, Americans, Chinese or Germans, the artists associated with this collection are, for the majority of them, painters. “Painting is to art what haute couture is to fashion, its purest, most ancient expression”, details the couturier. The challenge ? Do not take the easy way out by applying reproductions of the works on clothes, however beautiful they may be. “I didn’t want to do a couture version of their work or offer a
t-shirt straight out of a museum shop
. Many of them drew their inspiration from our conversations. “

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Each artist was thus fully associated with the work of the workshops, as can be seen from the photos from the Zoom conversations displayed on the inspiration books placed in the showroom. Thus, the Englishwoman James “Jamie” Nares, renowned for her repeated brushstrokes on large white canvases, giving the impression of large ribbons, sees her work interpreted on a large white coat accompanied by a long strapless dress:
“When I met her, I said to myself that something very feminine was needed, with movement and at the same time a dramatic dimension to best express her art”, explique Pierpaolo Piccioli.

720 working hours, 10 materials

The naive and colorful painting of the Italian Sofia Silva is expressed on a small cashmere suit jacket associated with a printed wool crepe skirt. “A tailor represents the spirit of this painter, who is also a writer. For this piece, I decided to use the instruments of my language. What one might take for small brushstrokes are in fact embroidered threads. “

The poetic hands of the Italian painter Alessandro Teoldi are projected onto a voluminous dress in silk and red velvet, which required 720 hours of work and 10 different materials. “The value of haute couture is not measured by its price but by the time spent on creation, by the human investment of the workshops”, insists Pierpaolo Piccioli. The hand behind the creation is visible here throughout the 84 passages of the collection, each silhouette is also named after the names of the craftsmen who shaped it. In total, 19 of them were imagined in collaboration with artists.

Singer Cosima, during the Valentino couture show.

Playing with proportions and volumes: an exercise that the Roman designer masters like no one else. Draped ball mini-dresses, cashmere capes, organza ribbons tops, large coats with hoods, draped and pleated ball gowns in taffeta supported by crinolines imposing a haughty gait… Large hats in ostrich feathers, designed by Philip Treacy, punctuate the collection and accompany cape dresses in gazar and crepe de chine or a strapless jumpsuit in pearl gray duchess satin. The majestic allure is served by a vibrant color palette, from fuchsia pink to emerald green, through deep purple or carmine red.
The few male silhouettes offer a unique look at the male wardrobe: color, sequins, layering. In short, daring.

At the end of the parade, while the Valentino teams let their joy explode backstage,
English singer Cosima performs the bewitching Calling You, by Jevetta Steele. A moment out of time.

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