Marrying Pierpaolo Piccioli's romantic creations with historic Chinese opulence, Valentino staged an unforgettable haute couture show that celebrated the Italian spirit of the Renaissance as well as Chinese splendor in Beijing
Last week, the fashion set, who hailed from Brazil to Germany, descended upon Beijing and sat with bated breath under the beautiful halls of the Aman Summer Palace. The luxury resort, which used to be the Chinese emperor’s holiday quarters, was transformed by glass boxes into a runway, which connected three palatial rooms, as autumn foliage decorated its perimeter. Outside, enormous block letters spelling Valentino informed each guest that they were in for something big and beautiful. This is, after all, what creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli does best.
An operatic aria blasted through the speakers and the first look emerged, a voluminous pink gown layered over a glittering turtleneck, followed by a hooded cape drenched in feathers and then a blooming bow jumpsuit with a five-foot train. Then the room took a collective gasp as a model wearing a crystal mask flitted past in a majestic robe adorned in rich gold and silver embroidery reminiscent of Chinese imperial gowns with fanning shoulders. It was look after look of incredible haute couture craftsmanship on display.
By the time a diaphanous bridal look in cream and silver brocade emerged, the audience had their hands to their heart, only to have their breaths stolen for a final time by supermodel DuJuan doused in three-dimensional foiled flowers. As each costume made its finale appearance, guests were wiping away tears.
It’s no overstatement to say Piccioli is one of the most important figures in fashion today thanks to his ability to modernize Valentino’s history of exquisite and extravagant glamour, but also for his commitment to diversity. A word so many brands have struggled and failed to adopt into their vocabulary, Piccioli has somehow managed to effortlessly bring an inclusionary vision to his work without being mired in claims of appropriation, in part because it feels to come from a genuine place.
In a world that’s arguably never been so divided, it was nothing short of emotional to see an international audience celebrating Italian savoir-faire and Chinese splendour under one roof.
But perhaps nothing encapsulated this more than the head-to-toe shimmering column of glitter Piccioli sent down the runway– the model’s skin which was also entirely covered in silver confetti obscured any signs of her ethnicity–so that the only thing on display was fantastic, fabulous, fashion.
Valentino, Rosana Lai