PARIS--Giambattista Valli’s show last night was exactly how I used to imagine the haute couture world as a child: gorgeous items unveiled in intimate, gold-leaf interiors, to a crowd who seems to wear them on a daily basis.
Held in a salon at the Hôtel de Crillon, the collection was presented to a small crowd, sans standing space. No gimmicks, no conceptual nonsense – only models undulating around the room in pristine ball gowns and cocktail dresses, to the 'oohs' and 'aahs' of Salma Hayek and Diane Kruger.
Raspberry, cream and salmon pink lace, floods of crystals and clusters of beaded flowers on sheer tops, reawakened every young girl’s dream at being the next Kate Middleton.
The delicate, youthful mood was reinforced by draped tops, some folded into giant knots; polka dot muslin dresses and a pleated A-line skirt injected a touch of Alice in Wonderland. As for the floral accessories--the belts, necklaces and headpieces were all jewelry pieces cut out of pure sheets of silver, courtesy of Luigi Scialanga, and effortlessly worn over clothes. This surrealist sprinkle, à la Jean Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast, only enriched the fairytale, timeless aspect of the collection.
"This is going back to the basics of couture, of atelier practice," Giambattista Valli told me in Frenglish backstage after the show, "and it’s giving work to dying professions. When I enquired about the necessity for couture in the middle of a worldwide financial crisis, he firmly said that "Couture is great for recession. The rich need to spend, not sit on their cash at home. See it as a form of a patronage."