EVEN those who don’t inhabit the hyper-real realms of couture will know Giambattista Valli’s handiwork. He’s the man behind one of Amal Clooney’s wedding weekend looks and the man behind Rihanna’s pink froufrou confection, worn at the Grammy’s and which meant she could barely sit down. This is a man that knows how to make a dress – and today they came big and bulbous, taking on a floating life of their own in sweet sherbet shades and garden party paradise flowers that weaved and wound down tasselled fronts and feathered hems. Cascades of tulle made for squirty cream skirts and peplums plunged around waists, earrings serious chandeliers dangling.
There was a continuation of the long and lean silhouette that we saw among his ready-to-wear collection and there was his hallmark bubble shapes for skirts and dresses too. These were robust but beautiful forces to be reckoned with, huge bug-eyed shades to complete a contemporary and youthful look that Valli has managed to coin, albeit one that might not be all that easy to walk in (Rihanna, we assume, can testify).
Designers often feature a mood board backstage. Sometimes you feel they’re just for show. Other times? Well, there are insights and there are insights. Giambattista Valli’s smattering of inspirational images at his Giamba show today was small but deeply significant: outsider artist Vali Myers, with her facial tattoos; a very young Nina Hagen, when she was still a pop star in East Germany; Eva Ionesco, who sued her photographer mother, Irina and notorious Parisian rake Jacques de Bascher.
Each one of them was the embodiment of a particular attitude that Valli fed into his collection. Myers’ tattoos and de Bascher’s harness, Hagen’s punkitude and Ionesco’s twisted Lolita—that was Giamba for Fall 2015. His own title for the collection was actually Instagram Lolitas, and the slight seediness of such a notion illuminated clothes that felt like an unabashed blend of sweet and decadent.
So there were sheer dresses of candy-colored flowers embroidered on organza, and there were black leather-backed tunics of mink. There were gilded jacquards that were clotted in their almost Klimt-ian density, and there were pure white lace shifts. But that shift was ensnared by a black leather harness. And it wasn’t alone in the weirdness of such a contrast. If there was a pretty dolly-bird trumpet sleeve, there was a sickly acid yellow fur. Valli described his obsession with flowers as “trippy,” but the lysergic nature of the collection scarcely stopped there. Was that a mountain landscape rendered in a micro-sequined georgette smock?
The designer’s postshow glee suggested he had a lot of fun with his latest outing. Maybe it was a relief after the intensity of haute couture. Or maybe it was because, as he said, “I just want to inspire girls. They may not be able to afford the clothes, but they can go and do the look, with the layered leggings and the face tattoos.”
And when was the last time you heard a designer say that?
AND so to Giambattista Valli, the designer, whose white macramé dress strewn with applique petal confetti was selected by the new Mrs. Clooney, human rights lawyer, Amal Alamuddin in which to make her first public appearance as the 53-year-old actor’s wife.
Valli must have been chuffed to bits. To boot, the designer is on a roll, having launched his younger line, Giamba in Milan a couple of weeks ago (with that collection, which sells for roughly 30 to 40 per cent less than his mainline, and up to his couture pieces, his designs now span a huge breadth of price points – all the better for attracting more and more customers).
The collection he sent out was in a similar vein of pretty with a decidedly Seventies spin – the decade, it’s safe to confirm is the decade of spring/summer 2015. It turns out Valli can cut a mean pair of flares. They came in various guises and topped with thigh-skimming tunics or three-quarter sleeve coats. Varieties of sweet A-line skirts, and shift dresses were presented in a refreshing palette of pink, white and black.
It wasn’t all lust-worthy: a white leather fringe mini dress looked awkward, those stonking silver necklaces with huge sphere hardware were clunky and distracting and some pieces here just appeared too girlish. It was the simpler ideas – and those leg-lengthening flares – that shone through this afternoon.
To shop the beautiful and classy looks of Spring/Summer 2015 Giambattista Valli click below:
GIAMBATTISTA VALLI’s client does not have a day life, or if she does he has no interest in clothing her for it in couture. He’s quite a pragmatic guy and he’s probably fine with her wearing a T-shirt and J Brand jeans during the day – possibly with one of his Moncler coats – but at night she’s all his.
His show today was womanly and masterful, sticking in general to the shapes that he favours – a shell top, a swollen-bellied skirt, a full length coat to which he added a high embroidered cummerbund-style waist.
Frills were everywhere, often defining the shoulders and sleeves, and motifs from the natural world were there in many of his gowns – a tree of life jacquard, an iridescent rose print, silk embroidered flowers and embroidered corsets of petals.
It appeared to be less aimed at the nightclub-dancing social butterfly he is often associated with, but then they like him have grown up together.
His sugar almond finales have become a kind of tradition in their feminine grandeur and this one didn’t disappoint.