My two favourite shows from couture: Dior and Valentino. I spoke about both on my first ever SHOWstudio live panel on Wednesday, which let me just say was quite terrifying! I was first asked to guest on one of these panels two years ago but couldn’t bring myself to do it. (There’s a reason I like blogging and the edit button is a big part of it.) However, this time I decided I would just say yes and worry about it later.
The Valentino couture panel was so interesting and so much fun. I was sent a Valentino info pack a few days before and of course I made sure I watched all the other couture shows. I found myself watching a lot of them on Instagram Stories, which I think is the next best thing to seeing a show live (I like @10magazine). You get a feel of entering the venue, the scale of the set design, the music and the anticipation. And also the overheard commentary of the guests if you’re lucky. I loved the Dior set design, with surreal body parts (noses, hands) suspended from the ceiling and a chequerboard floor.
And then the beautiful show (above and below) with intricate, op-art gowns, perfectly complemented by Stephen Jones’ gauze eye masks and Peter Philips’ elaborately winged eyeliner. The show was a tribute to the 20th century painter Leonor Fini and a statement on feminism and femininity. Art and female empowerment are recurring themes for Dior creative director Maria Grazia Chiuri – the masks were said to be inspired by art collector Peggy Guggenheim. I loved how all the elements fitted seamlessly together with no one aspect fighting for prominence. One of our panellists disagreed, and thought it was all too theme-y, but for me it was masterfully executed.
I arrived at SHOWstudio HQ in Victoria half an hour before Valentino showtime. It was all very relaxed with the team proffering tea or Prosecco and SHOWstudio’s Nick Knight coming to welcome us. Our chair was Rosanna Falconer, the former Matthew Williamson business director whom I first met when she worked at the British Fashion Council and who now co-runs #FashMash, the fashion and tech network. Also on our panel were V&A curator Oriole Cullen, stylist Grace Woodward and illustrator Amelie Hegardt. We warmed up by saying what we really thought of the current fashion goings-on (the Calvin Klein X Kardashians ad. Please stop.) and practicing keeping our chins up. And then we were live ‘on air’, with Rosanna doing the intros and quizzing us about our thoughts on couture, craft, culture and commerce.
The live panel starts at the same time as the show but we all know shows never start on time. So we had 15 minutes of chatter before the show itself began. It’s nerve-wracking commenting on a live show, especially if it’s a designer you like. What if you hate the collection? Or you think it’s great when everyone else loathes it?
As the first exit appeared we knew it wasn’t going to be one of those. It was the most poetic and romantic show of fulsome silhouettes with fantastic lightness and movement. The stroke of genius was the fluffy clouds of Philip Treacy feathers that bounced as the models walked. Birthday cake bows in contrasting colours were another masterstroke, but the whole collection had a sense of ease and modern attitude that belied the extravagance of each piece. We agreed that Pierpaolo Piccioli has found his stride at Valentino without his former sidekick Maria and that his bosses must be very happy.
After the cameras were off, we instantly relaxed and talked much more animatedly about the collection. I guess you just can’t help but be a bit guarded when your thoughts are being instantly broadcast. No matter though, we were still all obsessed with Pierpaolo’s voluminous opera coats and moiré bows. We lingered a while longer talking to Nick and Charlotte Knight and having our photos taken, while Grace regaled me with utterly unrepeatable fashion gossip. All in all, an unexpectedly jolly experience for my first SHOWstudio panel. You can watch it here…
WORDS: Disneyrollergirl/Navaz Batliwalla
IMAGES: Valentino; Dior x 3 by Jason Lloyd Evans; 4 x Valentino.
NOTE: Most images are digitally enhanced. Some posts use affiliate links and PR samples. Please read my cookies policy here