Nothing said “new Couture customer” like Giambattista Valli‘s collection tonight. Imagine the Alhambra Gardens. A girl wakes, maybe she’s still dressed from the night before, maybe she swathes herself in a striped sheet or slips into her beau’s pj’s. It’s bright so she puts on sunglasses. Her head hurts. She wraps it in a napkin from the champagne bucket. And she goes for a walk in the garden. There’s a dry, warm wind, blossoms are blowing, they cloud her
A pretty picture, and Valli did it justice on his catwalk. He visited the gardens years ago and filed the memory away for access at the right moment. It was the eclecticism of the Alhambra that appealed to him, the mix of Moorish and Spanish. That mix was entirely sublimated here, but there was still a feeling for the heat of the gardens, for the richness of the flowers, and even, at the end, a monochrome catholic strictness as a kind of cleanser before a finale of skirts fluffed into an extravaganza of feathery tulle. “They’ll be the best-seller,” Valli announced confidently, because they would lend themselves so well to weddings.
“The secret of my girls is that they’re always eccentric,” he said before his show. “They don’t play it. They are.” So you could say that there was eccentricity in a skirt in pink fluoro lace laid over a striped body. But the strength of this lineup was that Valli didn’t, for once, actually cater to that waywardness. Skirts were pencil thin and below the knee, and right away that gave the collection a long, elegant, grown-up line. They were paired with crop tops, tanks, or a capelet situation that Valli liked. In the case of the full-skirted frenzy of the finale, he used tiny piped pajama tops as a counterpoint.
There was something old Hollywood about such a look, an impression Valli effortlessly compounded with dresses in a wisteria-printed mousseline that begged for Norma Shearer. Hardly the apogee of a “new” Couture customer, but entirely emblematic of an aspirational age of elegance.