The moments before a fashion show begin can sometimes be entertaining. That
was certainly true of the Valentino show, when a demoiselle chose to sneak a
long-haired dog beneath the folds of her jacket. Her red-coated escort looked
sheepish, as if he might have walking duties if things did not go well. Then,
front row and center, an exchange of ideas seemed to be going on as the
entire set of power American editors sat happily chatting. On this occasion,
André Leon Tally was the one wearing dark sunglasses. And he probably needed
them to shield himself from the feeding frenzy of paparazzi down the row
circling around a thin, young lady like hungry sharks. Her name meant nothing
to me, but she was by all accounts an up and coming Italian actress.
Inevitably the lights come up and show begins, and whatever glimpses of the
jet set you may observe instantly recedes into memory.
Valentino's show was remarkable for the fluidity of nearly every piece, be it
in blossoming pant suits, in the cascading tiers of ruffles that made up a
chiffon skirt, in the luscious prints that swirled onto an extensive series
of long dresses, or in the exquisite cut of an evening gown as it fluttered
down the runway.
Program notes made reference to clothes from bygone China, but it's safe to
assume that modern China, with its booming economy, was the target of the
sumptuous prints and dazzling embroidered tops that evoked a modern
romanticism and vibrancy that was both sensual and exotic.
The colors - sage, dusty rose, chartreuse and apple-green - caught the eye,
but it was a pair of jeans embroidered in a butterfly motif and paired with
an arm wrap pulled back over the shoulders to form the insect's effigy that
seemed destined for the young woman of today.
"I want to stand apart from all the fake couture that has dominated the
runways for the past few seasons," Valentino said.
It is safe to assume that he accomplished that and a lot more. The evening
pieces were particularly stellar - a pink skirt frothing in a sea of ruffled
hearts, a signature red gown split to the waist and falling to the floor in
waves of pleats.