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Valentino staged its first-ever fashion show in Tokyo last month, and it was a study in contrasts

Valentino staged its first-ever fashion show in Tokyo last month, and it was a study in contrasts. East-meets-West. Old-meets-new. Man-meets-woman. Creative Director Pierpaolo Piccioli added another feather to his plume-filled cap as he debuted the Valentino Pre-Fall 2019 menswear and womenswear collections together—another first—sending the models down a runway to music played by pianist Angèle David-Guillou. Key ideas in Japanese aesthetics were formative to the collections, namely ma, which roughly translates to a "pregnant pause," and wabi-sabi, the beauty of imperfection; so too, the Renaissance art that has been a creative cornerstone for Piccioli since he began working with the maison. In the lavish collection inspiration books produced for the show, he juxtaposed antique Japanese kintsugi vases—ones whose cracked porcelain had been repaired with caulking of molten gold—with images of gilt-framed works by Da Vinci and della Francesca.


The Valentino archive provided a wealth of inspiration, as well. The design of Mr. Valentino's famous '90s-era commedia dell-arte ball gown was updated into both a gown with a tufted skirt, and big, fuzzy coat. Signature embellishments such as tiered ruffles, sunray pleats and ostrich feathers were a recurring theme, worked into numerous refined-yet-casual looks, e.g., a puffer jacket with ostrich-trimmed sleeves. Then there was the Valentino red, dosed out in generous helpings at the start and close of the show. Rose petals poured down as the models posed in their gossamer red gowns—frocks with the structural ingenuity and delicacy of origami flora. A triumph.


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