Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli presented their fourth couture show for Valentino yesterday in Paris. Critics found their first two attempts at couture kind of boring — too Valentino-y, even though that was probably done in an attempt to not piss off the label's founder, who was very sensitive about maintaining his aesthetic legacy. The third collection shown in January — a neon-streaked Avatar fest — marked a total departure for the label, but not one critics were overly fond of. Their new couture stuff, which included a bubble dress, perfect for any of you with delicate broken arms wary of riding a crowded subway, continued to earn mixed reviews.
Motifs included baby dolls and bows, along with plenty of short hemlines that contributed to the collection's very youthful feel — too youthful, many argue. While last couture season the cinematic inspiration of choice was Avatar, this season Hilary Alexander wonders in the Telegraph if Valentino looked to that other huge fantasy flick:
In this, the duo of Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli’s fourth haute couture outing for the Valentino label, there was a definite evolution towards a more confident, recognisable signature.
The collection was named “The dark side of first love”, suggesting, perhaps, some inspiration, at least, from the “Twilight” phenomena of books and movies.
Style.com didn't think this was a bad thing, necessarily:
Teen psychodrama may fit with the kind of "dark side" idea they've sometimes toyed with in the past, but it was downright peculiar in a couture context. Still, as a pitch to a much younger customer (and those girls were out in force in the front row today), the collection was a major success on its own terms: haute couture for the Twilight generation.
And after all, look at girls like Taylor Momsen — a lot could use some more ladylike wardrobe options. Meanwhile, Cathy Horyn thought the collection was a good if obnoxious effort for Chiuri and Picciolo:
The designers like fragility, though it obviously flatters only certain bodies. As beautiful as Ms. Hurley is, she would have difficulty wearing many of the clothes Ms. Chiuri and Mr. Piccioli proposed. Too short, too girlish, too annoyingly fragile.
That said, this was the strongest collection the designers have shown since they took over the house.
Horyn went on to say that "a lot of their ideas have looked immature," though this collection was "clearer." WWD called the cage dress "silly," and echoed others' sentiments that the clothes were too young:
At its best, it was young and very beautiful. But at times it crossed over to cute, which is a fashion condition more wisely acquired well below haute prices.
Indeed, there does seem to be something off with so many couture baby dolls.