Valentino Fall 2011 Couture Review

valentine couture 2011 review

Photos: Imaxtree

Looks from the Valentino Fall 2011 Haute Couture collection

SHOW: Valentino (See the full collection.)

ACCESSORIES: The bare minimum: platform shoes, chignons and a seven-figure-strong checking account.

THEME: Luxury—the price-no-object kind

OVERALL TAKEAWAY: Valentino reinvented for the twenty-first century

Amidst all this murmuring about Brand DNA (fashion's favorite catchphrase at the moment), Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli are the rare exceptions that seem to have really sat down and crammed on their basic Valentino 101. They're both Valentino veterans, but something clicked over the past few seasons as their visions of Valentino's future and Signor Garavani's creations past have synched-up to make Valentino, right now, just right.

Their Fall haute couture collection was a further refinement of the new Valentino woman. She isn't that different from the old Valentino woman (not that you'd ever be allowed to call her old), but everything somehow seems lighter. Case in point was the weightless eveningwear, lace laid over organza, flashes of flesh revealed through panels of chiffon, all knotted up with a neat little bow. The silhouette was remarkably covered-up: to the knee and below, long-sleeved, lots of clavicle-grazing collars. For day, the dresses came in brocade or velvet, but on some of the more somber coats, you got a whisk of a lace lining—luxury hidden from view.

There were inspirational murmurs of Russian émigrés—that old chestnut of faded, almost-European grandeur, tearing down curtains from the Peterhof Palace and making a frock—and of redefining luxury. That's a theme couture seems to throw up every couple of seasons as a justification for the insane expense of this made-to-measure fashion art form. This Valentino collection was a more persuasive argument than most, because the luxury did look different. It looked modern, fresh and terribly young. Any rich woman, of a certain age or not, would want to buy into a piece of that.