At Last, Contentment in the House of Valentino

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Valentino couture, spring 2009. Photo: Imaxtree

Yesterday, Pier Paolo Piccioli and Maria Grazia Chiuri presented their first collection for Valentino. Valentino went out of his way to issue a statement clarifying that he had nothing to do with the design of the collection but had faith in the duo. Lest anyone doubt that, he sat front-row at the show with longtime partner Giancarlo Giammetti. Showgoers applauded when Vava walked in; Hilary Alexander of the Telegraph writes that he was greeted like a "conquering hero," and beamed and smiled during the show. During the finale, he looked like he was trying not to cry. Unlike the work of ex-Valentino designer Alessandra Facchinetti, who, without Vava's support, only lasted less than a year at the house, Valentino loved the show and was the first to leap to applause when it ended. WWD reports:

“I have to tell you, they did a very good job. It is a collection that is perfect for this very moment,” he said backstage afterward. “It was quite emotional to see all my clothes, done by these people who loved me for 12 years, and they are really sensational. They were always staying with me during my fittings of haute couture.”

If only the critics agreed. Alexander writes that the collection "failed to achieve that blinding flash of creativity that is the mark of the true couturier’s art," and called it "a blast from the past, rather than a lightning bolt pointing to the future." But it's not like they were under any pressure, or that their first collection's happening to be haute couture would have made it more difficult.

The International Herald Tribune's Suzy Menkes was much more laudatory, calling the show a "respectable and respectful debut," but noting that the designers "did not inject much of their own personalities." After what happened to Facchinetti, how could they? Valentino's happy, and that's all that matters. Job security is not to be taken for granted these days.

See a slideshow of the spring 2009 Valentino couture collection.

FIT TO BE TIED [WWD]
Honoring the spirit of Valentino [IHT]
Paris Haute Couture Week: Valentino [Telegraph]