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There's never been a rose on the Valentino runway like the ones Pierpaolo Piccioli devised for Fall/Winter 2019

There’s never been a rose on the Valentino runway like the ones Pierpaolo Piccioli devised for Fall/Winter 2019. Roses shaped out of photorealistic images of outer space were placement-printed onto bone-white looks and captioned with stray lines of poetry like “there’s a forever beyond the sky/I think we should go there tonight.” Yet other roses appeared in bouquets blossoming a close-up photo of two classically sculpted figured clasped in a deep kiss. More roses—enormous ones—were appliqued onto a gossamer gown of Valentino red, their petals outlined in jet embroidery.


Those roses were just one example of the ways that Piccioli was having fun with signature elements from the Valentino archive. The Valentino rose is, of course, one of the maestro’s emblematic embellishments: A sample iconic rosy look is the strapless red tulle cocktail frock from the Spring/Summer 1959 Haute Couture collection, which features four rows of roses embedded in its skirt. Mr. Valentino paid homage to that look—memorably photographed by Peter Lindbergh for the Red book in 2000—in his final couture collection, showing a strapless gown with four rows of rose-like corollas on the skirt. And Mr. Piccioli paid it oblique homage this season, appliqueing roses—enormous ones!—all along a red tulle gown of Valentino red.


But it wasn’t just roses that Piccioli was playing around with. Another Mr. Valentino’s favorite embellishments was feathers—witness 1990’s tan ombre cocktail dress with a skirt of ostrich plumes, or the fabulous floor-length red evening coat from 1963 made of interwoven feathers and tulle. Piccioli put his own spin on plumage, showing coats with embroidered feathers that looked as though they’d just gotten an electric shock. Elsewhere, the wispy FW19 in nudes and day-glo colors winked at other classic pieces from the archive, ones that set the template for their vertical ruffles. (To wit: 2000’s gilded lace dress with vertical lace organza ruffles, or the lace and organza cocktail dress from 1996 with ruffles cut on the bias.) The Fall/Winter Valentino show wasn’t short on invention, but it wasn’t short on tradition, either—which made it the best kind of tribute.



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