From the book-lined interior of the Biblioteca Casanatense to the walls of the Piazza Mignanelli, Valentino took us on a journey of discovery through the ages of ancient Rome this haute couture AW15 season.
By Christopher Prince
Much can be said about what design duo, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli have done for the house of Valentino. The pair journeyed back to Rome, to where it all began in 1960 when Valentino Garavani set up the labels couture house. And to this day the brand has weathered the storm, surviving over half a decade inside its Italian headquarters.
Prior to the show guests were treated to an exclusive Roman expedition, First at the city’s public library Biblioteca Casanatense, to an 1840s marble bath set within a private palazzo, inside a third-century AD Mithraic cavern, before a final pit stop at the painter, Giorgio de Chirico’s apartment museum. This was no ordinary haute couture collection, but an ode to Italian culture and history.
The show itself culminated this very sensibility. Held within the walls of the Piazza Mignanelli at sunset the collection echoed the spirit of Rome. The opener was dominated in black, chosen to reflect the slightly noir, sinister aspect of the city’s ancestry. From there the references picked up pace, first in shrouded cape silhouettes made famous by the house – as if sculpted from the coliseum, to the golden pendants from jeweler Alessandro Gaggio, evocative of armour.
A nod to the eagle – a symbol of Imperial Rome – was innovatively fed into couture gowns in open-winged shoulder straps alongside woven wheat stalk motifs on a golden lace dress and regal embroidery trickling down ponchos. It wasn’t just about fashion. It was a heartfelt love letter to the city that birthed one of the finest couture houses in the world.