Couture in a Cinecittà sound studio from Valentino
Pierpaolo Piccioli took Valentino haute couture home to Rome on Tuesday and into a giant sound studio in the city’s legendary film studios the better to capture the grandeur and volume of a very particular collection and moment.
Entitled "Of Grace and Light, Pierpaolo Piccioli In Dialogue With Nick Knight," this was a digital live screening in a rarefied setting for a rather sublime series of clothes shot with considerable skill by the ace English photographer.
Pre-show the camera had wandered through the many lots of the Cinecittà’s 40,000 square meters - dotted with giant heads of Roman emperors; looming temples, massive eagles and fake imperial palaces.
Just before the mini-show began, a tracking shot led to the studio’s famed front door, evoking the ghost of the great film directors who worked there – Fellini, Rossellini, Visconti, Leone, Coppola and Scorsese. One could even recognize decorative elements from Fellini’s Casanova, or sets from the TV series Rome.
Finally, a model appeared almost floating through an enormous black box, swinging back and forth on trapeze inside a Cinecittà sound studio.
Knight and Piccioli had teased the event two weeks ago, with a barely one-minute video shown at Valentino’s time slot during the debut online Paris Haute Couture season. With images of huge shards of fabric undulating in light winds.
Just like how the gowns flowed behind the cast in this couture fall-winter 2020/21 collection, designed to suggest “couture as an invite to dream with open eyes,” as the house explained in a release.
“Across history, moments of reset, or restart, invariably put human values at the center. Humanism is the seed of rebirth. This is one of such moments. Focusing on fashion as the profoundly human activity of giving form to matter through the hands, shaping creations that the body inhabits and brings to life,” added the house.
Enormous petal dresses or giant crinolines; on which Knight projected images of rock formations or immense petals. Leading on from a technique Knight had used to great effect in a joint project with John Galliano for Maison Margiela in the Serpentine Gallery in London.
At times in Rome, the clothes seem to morph into huge flowers; while other gigantic dresses became like icicles that never quite split apart. Many five-meter-long dresses suspended in the raw space. Was this Sound Studio 5, Fellini’s favorite?
Models swung back and forth in the immense darkness, captured by precise spotlights. While unfurling rolls of silk, chiffon and tulle were captured in overhead crimson red lights.
Not the first time, Valentino showed models on a trapeze in the Eternal City – recalling a farewell gala by Valentino Garavani before the Coliseum a decade ago.
Like every couture house in Europe, Valentino only showed online this summer, due to the pandemic. This event in Rome marked the penultimate digital show or presentation by a major fashion house this month. The final online show will be Christian Dior in Puglia on Wednesday night.
Japanese percussion mixed with chimes and operetta as black models swung into view in monumental white dresses; reverend mother’s plissé silk gowns or huge clouds of tulle. Puff shoulder evening gowns, arms cover in metallic silver gloves; massive dresses that seem to drift off into the ether.
Roman beauty Maria Carla Boscono made an appearance, just before an another fabulous concoction – a marabou feather bird of paradise look.
Non vogliamo essere subito gia cosi senza sogni, read the tagline, a phrase from poet and filmmaker Pierpaolo Pasolini, meaning, we don’t immediately want to be already so without dreams.
At the finale all 15 models posed in what felt like a giant still-life, as PPP took a quite bow to a smattering of applause from the small audience of friends, family and Valentino staffers.
“My deepest gratitude goes to the grace and light of the humans who worked so hard on this collection. If I have to think of a future, of the opportunity we have to build something new, I can only hope that it will be made by the hands and hearts and with the same passion of those humans that I can call my people,” said the Roman-born couturier.
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