The Grand Tour. It’s a concept that lives mostly in our minds these days. As Maria Grazia Chiuri pointed out backstage, “In the past, the English and French came to our country to improve their culture; now all Italian people go to England or to New York.” But theoretical or not, the grand tour proved to be a transporting theme for Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli’s Valentino show this afternoon: The collection was poetic, graceful, and beautiful.
Chiuri and Piccioli touched on many of Italy’s patrimonies, from its antiquities all the way down to its kitsch. Centuries-old interiors—the country is cornice heaven—provided blueprints for a series of colorful dresses printed with vivid flowers and arabesque forms. Another group of dresses was patchworked from what could’ve been souvenir scarves. Neapolitan pastel stripes decorated a shrunken sweater and the broderie anglaise skirt it was paired with. And Rome got its moment in the spotlight, too: A softly draped powder blue shift, loosely gathered at the waist, looked like something Diana the Huntress might’ve worn, save for the band of beading around the neckline. But the designers lavished special attention on the seaside, printing some gowns with starfish and snails, and embroidering others with shells, sailing ships, and underwater creatures like the Portuguese man-of-war.