Pierpaolo Piccioli’s Valentino is a masterclass in blending old-world couture with a contemporary edge. His latest Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2024 collection, presented in the hushed salons of the house’s Place Vendôme headquarters, was a testament to that delicate balance.
Gone were the grand gestures of last season’s cinematic presentation at the Château de Chantilly. This time, Piccioli opted for a more intimate affair, harking back to the one-on-one experience that defines the “sacred process” of couture. The golden age of couture, the 1950s and ’60s, served as inspiration, with the designer acknowledging the role of popular culture in reviving interest in the rarefied craft.
While the collection certainly included show-stopping red carpet gowns, Piccioli surprised with a playful daywear repertoire. Oversized jackets, palazzo pants and scooped vests in unexpected volumes and vibrant hues like chartreuse, oxblood and lime green exuded a quirky charm. The focus was on the individual, with clothes designed to empower and celebrate personal style.
Piccioli is a master of technical wizardry, yet his creations never feel weighed down by their own brilliance. Elaborate embroidery is eschewed in favor of more subtle forms of embellishment. A glossy green men’s coat shimmered with elongated slices of patent leather that mimicked crocodile skin, while a delicate chiffon bodice sprouted delicate white feathers of cut organza. The illusion of effortlessness was paramount; the real magic lay in the meticulous craftsmanship beneath the surface.
Piccioli’s deep respect for his studio team shone through. He proudly introduced them at the end of the show, and each member received a well-deserved round of applause. They are not just “hands,” but individuals who pour their lives and stories into each garment. Antonietta de Angelis, an 81-year-old maestra, is the mastermind behind the seemingly effortlessly draped gowns, a testament to the human touch that remains at the heart of couture.
With 63 looks, the collection offered a kaleidoscope of possibilities for the upcoming awards season and beyond. A black velvet cutout gown with a draped silk chiffon stole exuded timeless elegance, while a forest green jersey apron dress with a hand-pleated bodice embodied a sculptural sensibility. Each piece, unique in its execution, spoke to Piccioli’s core belief: “If you don’t project your own experience, your own life, your humanity into what you’re doing, you will never feel the soul.”