In the beautiful city of Venice, Pierpaolo Piccioli presented Valentino’s Fall 21 Haute Couture collection. Music, textiles, and colors merged in majestic harmony.
Valentino is a brand known for the romanticism of its collections. Since its founding, this Italian fashion house has stood out for its ultra-feminine designs, in which textiles such as organza, tulle, and silk crepe are transformed into beautiful garments that celebrate the natural beauty of women. Under the direction of Pierpaolo Piccioli, this fantasy of romance, glamour, and elegance has been translated into garments for a modern utopia.
Pierpaolo is known for challenging limits and breaking the rules, not in an irreverent way but in a way that allows him to reach new heights. The designer makes it clear that in order to innovate we must also understand and respect tradition. It is with this mentality that Pierpaolo Piccioli has created and designed each of his collections since 2016. As a lover of fine art and cinema, Pierpaolo’s collections are a conversation between different disciplines, in which the canvas a garment. And, this relationship between art and fashion is more intertwined in the Fall 21 Haute Couture collection than in any other we’ve seen before. To make these pieces, the Roman designer collaborated with 17 visual artists. For Pierpaolo this blending of art and fashion was a contradictory one because the two worlds are totally opposite; fashion is related to the body and movement, which poses a limitation, but art is 100% free and unrestricted. This opposition results in a beautiful collection, in which art comes to life through movement.
The Gaggiandre, located in the Arsenal in Venice, was the setting at which Valentino presented his Fall 21 Haute Couture collection entitled Valentino Des Ateliers. For this project, one close to his heart and mind, Pierpaolo invited different painters, each with a unique point of view, to collaborate and inspire each other. Among these creative minds were Anastasia Bay, Katrin Bremermann, Maurizio Cilli, Luca Coser, Andrea Respino, Wu Rui, Alessandro Teoldi, and Patricia Treib. This kind of exchange of ideas may seem very common as the worlds of fashion and art are regularly considered similar, but in the words of Valentino’s Creative Director “Fashion is not ‘art’, because the latter has no purpose other than itself, while the former always has a practical scope, a function, a use ”. That is why this collection is a true “unicorn,” a fantastical work in which the three-dimensionality of the garments is imposed on the works of art but at the same time the clothing takes on the metaphor and symbolism of that art. Painting and haute couture are parallel worlds–timeless interpretations of beauty at the hands of artisans, seamstresses, and painters that who make creations that are testaments of an era.
It is this enigmatic conversation between art and fashion that brought this collection to life. And the result is impressive because each of the outfits forces us to look closely in order to appreciate the perfection of the garments. As with a painting, we must look both closely and from far away in order to truly appreciate and understand the entirety of the piece. Take for example the look created in collaboration with artist Joel S. Allen, who creates fiber-wrapped sculptures that imitate organisms. The dress looks like a dandelion in white and red with touches of black at the roots. Or, take the long dress in classic Valentino red that at first glance looks to be a patchwork of abstract figures in reddish tones, but upon further inspection is not actually an abstraction but fully made up of small human figures, a clear reference to the work of the painter Alessandro Teoldi.
The Fall 21 Haute Couture collection represents a new way of approaching and understanding this style of fashion. Designing the collection with a group of visual artists broke down previously imposed barriers and gave us a world full of new possibilities. We learned that by limiting and pigeonholing ourselves, we delay our evolution and become stagnant. Valentino has learned how to embrace this new attitude, synonymous with tradition and innovation. His aesthetic has won the hearts of new generations without straying from DNA of the brand. Through this collection, the romantic feel of Valentino got transformed into contemporary elements of creativity and modernity, but with all the same masterful execution as that of the last 50 years of this Roman atelier.
Like every stroke in a painting, every element of the runway was perfectly curated, from Cosima’s heavenly voice, the jewel-toned color palette of the clothing, the white dress code for the guests, and the sunset on the horizon. The Valentino Haute Couture Fall 21 show was magnificent: a symphony of joy, optimism, collaboration, art, fashion, and beauty!