Giambattista Valli pitches a youthful vision of haute couture

It was Couture with a capital "C" at Italian designer Giambattista Valli's latest runway show at Paris' Pavillon Gabriel in the heart of the Champs-Elysées gardens, where the designs bore the signature traits of the brand, displayed an interesting use of volume and texture, and clearly had their sights set on a younger haute couture consumer. 


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Giambattista Valli - Fall-Winter2018 - Haute Couture - Paris - © PixelFormula

Giambattista Valli, whose show has become an unmissable event at Haute Couture Week since its debut in July 2011, invited his guests into a bucolic setting for his latest runway. The pavilion's glass-walled rooms had been dressed in pure white, the only notes of colour the lavender flowers which filled the space with their perfume. Among the guests on an A-list front row were designer Olivier Rousteing, fashion editor Carine Roitfeld, and a brace of influencers including Chiara Ferragni and Olivia Palermo, who just so happened to be wearing a dress that was the same colour as the flowers.

The first look out on the catwalk served as something of a declaration of intent, pairing bloomer-like trousers with a strapless bow-shaped top, both in discrete black. Taking on a number of different shapes and fits, trousers went on to form the base of various looks in this runway show, which proposed a more modern and urban vision of haute couture, a vision which was no less artistic for its original take on the codes of the category. The designs, which mixed and matched combinations of contemporary crop tops with embroidered skirts, and took inspiration from the works of Dada artist Francis Picabia, used exquisite fabrics such as tulle and silk. Some were finished with feathers, which also cropped up on shoes where they jostled for the limelight with jewels from Swiss luxury brand Chopard.

The volume that usually characterises the work of the Roman designer again played an important role in most of this collection. Puffed sleeves were juxtaposed with tulle to give a frilled effect, while majestically structural dresses were the central theme of the show's finale, where impressive creations in sky blue and shocking pink tulle made a real statement. Trains and capes were added to a number of looks, creating a parachute-like aesthetic.

"The idea of youth is very important to me," said Giambattista Valli backstage after his much-applauded runway. "I have very young customers who bring a new attitude to haute couture. They're laid back and confident, and wear haute couture pieces just as they would wear jeans and a t-shirt," he added. The designer was, however, quick to make it clear that this was not an attempt to pander to millennials. "Everybody's obsessed with them, but youth isn't a question of age, it's a way of being," he concluded. 

It's been a busy year for Giambattista Valli, who, hot on the heels of openings in Seoul and Beijing, inaugurated his London flagship at 29 Sloane Street a few weeks ago. What's more, at the end of last month, Artémis, the holding company of the Pinault family, acquired a minority stake in the Giambattista Valli brand with plans to help the label grow.

Translated by Robin Driver

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