While plenty of designers have channeled the '70s over the past year, Valentino's Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli infused their specifically romantic aesthetic into the bygone era for Resort 2012.
The reference is oh-so-subtle and primarily centers around suiting. Lauren Hutton's there, in safari-style high-waisted shorts and cropped jackets in khaki and bronze, and the gleaming white trousers topped with loose blazers. There are several gorgeous pantsuits with plunging halters and wide legs, and one interpretation in signature Valentino Red that is intricately cut with a crew neck and loose short sleeves, which fall into a strapping X cut-out in the back. It is here one can depart, for a moment, from the traditional Valentino dresses to see the brilliance of Piccioli's and Chiuri's tailoring. While each piece is impeccably fit, there is no feel of skintight, disco-era constraint. The relaxed toppers and pants leave room to breathe without losing sight of the womanly shape underneath.
Of course, it wouldn't be a Valentino collection without some pure prettiness, and as per usual there are several frocks and gowns that pander to the grown-up flower child. Several dresses have a delicate overlay speckled with blanched daisy attachments or frothy ferns, some sheer sleeves nodding to this past Spring's polka-dot chiffon dresses that graced quite a few covers and editorials. There are several wildflower patterns, in mint green, dusty rose and black, present on both shorter frocks with bow-tied straps and more elaborate floor-grazing gowns with prairie blooms floating upwards. It brings to mind the Virgin Suicides: femininity and womanhood bursting under a uniform of vintage wedding dresses in muted palettes.
Whichever interpretation one chooses, suit sets or floral gowns, one thing is certain: these clothes are light as air.