It was freezing in the Marais as we entered the impressive palace of the Archives Nationales, the venue for Giambattista Valli’s show, and, at the door, trade unioners lectured us against the decadence of staging fashion shows in public buildings. It was May of '68 Frenchness at its best. Only, Giambattista Valli is Italian.
There was nothing French in the succession of salons filled with gilded chairs. Members of the Spanish royal family, of the Italian jet set and of the Middle Eastern 1%, on the other hand, abounded. Valli thrives in the über luxury of their world, and his clothes are never not a reflection of that. Monday was no exception. The designer existed more than ever in his chic bubble as he sent the first few looks down the catwalk: satin duchesse mini dresses creased as if they has been hastily packed (in Vuitton trunks, obviously) and kept their folding lines. Obviously any jet setter worth her salt would have her 5-star hotel iron the garment before wearing it? But then again, maybe this season’s jet setter is a bit of a free spirit.
Which might be the case, seeing as, in many instances, the designer traded the overtly glamourous ball gowns for hippie-ish, folk-inspired flower numbers. Some of them were even worn with a (mink-trimmed) sleeveless waistcoat. Botanical flower prints and embroideries were the thread that tied it all together. This was Marie Antoinette when she looked for peace by drinking milk and picking strawberries in her hameau. And it was delectable. Of course, even idle Marie Antoinettes need to be formal from time to time, and that’s where Valli’s trademark tulle ruffle dresses came in. However, it was the simpler chiffon ones that kept us dreaming well after the show was over.