Let’s get the sideshow out of the way first. As the last Valentino model trailed off the runway, I too was trailing off. I’m feeling a little queasy and overheated and suffering from lack of sleep, all ordinary Paris Fashion Week complaints that are really too minor to mention aloud. And then, it happened: the crowd was zapped awake by the appearance of Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) and Hansel (Owen Wilson), who marched down the runway to the Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me Baby.” It was an uproarious, joyous moment: a chance to put “YAAAAASSSS” to good use.
With only one more day of Fashion Month to go, it was just what the crowd needed, and I’m glad that Valentino co-designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli were good enough sports to share their runway with the most famous fictional models in the world (who, we were happy to learn, are working on a sequel to the film that brought us orange-mocha Frappuccinos, Blue Steel, and of course, Derelicte, the most right-on satirization of a fashion brand, ever).
After Derek and Hansel left the stage, the actual models returned for the finale, wearing a collection inspired equally by Gustav Klimt companion Emile Louise Floge, and the illustrator Celia Birtwell, who was married to Ossie Clark and muse to David Hockney. “These two women share a singular approach to life,” read the show notes. “They combine fragility and sensuality and give strength and depth to feminine grace.” Chiuri and Piccioli also collaborated with Birtwell on prints for the pre-fall and fall 2015 collections.
Standout looks included, but weren’t limited to: A hooded black jacket belted at the waist and paired with a narrow black skirt, a dazzling checkerboard and striped trench, and several patchwork fur coats with wool backs. But the collection was really about confidence. Chiuri and Piccioli let someone else have the spotlight, because they know their work is more than entertainment. It also doesn’t hurt that this will be the most talked about show of Paris Fashion Week. Savvy move.