The couture collection Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccoli created for Valentino — their first for the house — left critics underwhelmed. They wished the duo had injected more of their personalities and a forward-thinking design philosophy into the venerable label. However, we wondered if that were even an option, since Alessandra Facchinetti was unceremoniously let go as top designer for the house, after her spring 2009 collection, for doing just that. Vava was openly displeased with what he saw as a lack of respect for his archives and felt sure Chiuri and Piccoli would pay his past work proper due. Well we hope at least Vava's happy, because they presented another heavily archival collection yesterday, and the reviews of the ready-to-wear line are even worse than those of the couture line.
Hilary Alexander of the Telegraph said the venue the collection was presented in was more interesting than the clothes, which she calls "too much of a blast from the past." New York Times fashion critic Cathy Horyn thought Chiuri and Piccoli's clothes were more "simplified" this time around. "The clothes, while perfectly nice, were without surprise, wit or newness," Horyn writes. The International Herald Tribune's Suzy Menkes agreed, writing that the show "never sent out a shiver of emotion or excitement." And in perhaps the ultimate blow to the label, Menkes fondly recalls the Valentino collection Facchinetti designed a year ago, which "sent a waft of modernity through the house."
Though at the couture show Valentino sat front row, smiling and clapping with tears in his eyes so pleased was he with his new successors, he was not at the ready-to-wear show last night. Instead he was here in New York at a screening of his documentary, Valentino: The Last Emperor. Next week his promo tour continues when he goes on the Martha Stewart Show. We're glad he's finally fully enjoying his retirement. He seemed so stressed when Facchinetti was on board. Perhaps now that he's loosening up he didn't feel the need to attend the show. We hope his burgeoning film career allows Chiuri and Piccoli a little more breathing room, too.