The fanfare of their first haute couture outing behind them, the new Valentino designers, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli, presented their ready-to-wear collection today, and while the label's retired founder wasn't visibly cheering from the sidelines as he was in January, his spirit was certainly present. As former accessories designers under Mr. Valentino, the incumbent duo are keenly aware of the house codes, and today they adhered rather dutifully to the ladylike sensibility for which these clothes have always been known.
Elaborating on several of the ideas they presented in their sixties-inflected couture collection, Chiuri and Piccioli showed sleeveless sheaths and coats with fan pleating below the ribs, some accented with a jeweled brooch. There were evening coats with gradated crystal beading, deep fox-fur cuffs and hems replacing couture's feathers. Cocktail dresses and gowns, meanwhile, featured draped and shirred bodices, but despite bold colors like emerald, golden yellow, and turquoise, they erred on the staid side. The same goes for those camel and bordeaux cape-backed lunch suits. A long leopard-spot cape with a wide band of fur at the hem had a younger feel.
Overall, capturing the youth vote with this collection will prove a challenge. Mr. Valentino, of course, was popular with ladies of a certain age, but he always was—and continues to be—quite tapped in with the fabulous crowd. In order to move the label forward as the new designers' mandate requires, a little less reverence for the past and a little more attention to what the palazzo set is wearing now will be in order.
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