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#SuzyCouture: Valentino’s Digital Journey ‘Of Grace And Light’

© Courtesy of Valentino: Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2020

Pierpaolo Piccioli works with Nick Knight to embrace high fashion in the time of coronavirus

‘Of Grace and Light’ is the name of a Valentino Haute Couture show like no other: intensely beautiful white dresses blown into full or intensely elongated shapes by Creative Director Pierpaolo Piccioli, then wildly coloured with projections of digital patterns by SHOWStudio photographer and film-maker, Nick Knight. 

These poetic silhouettes are then crowned with headpieces by Philip Treacy. 

For the finale, ultra-long dresses flowing towards the floor or shoulders enveloped in a fluff of white make the show look like a circus parade. Welcome to Cinecittà, Rome’s vast and historic film studio. 

“It was an experience; a journey through a kind of emotion – and even for us it was a dream,” Pierpaolo said after the mesmerising presentation, referring to the work of legendary Italian movie director Pier Paolo Pasolini.

But this is not a film show, nor a fashion show, as we know them, but rather a hybrid of both. It makes a stunning end to a couture season that was brim-filled more with imagination than with clothes.


Valentino by Pierpaolo Piccioli

Post udostępniony przez Suzy Menkes (@suzymenkesvogue)

“No tricks, no gimmicks, no packaging, no story telling – just creative fashion and humanity, trying to deliver a different idea, playing with proportions and putting fashion at the centre of the conversation,” Pierpaolo said.

The entire show is a play in contrasts on 15 silhouettes, from its opening streaked with a brilliant, burning red glow to figures projected in icy blue and sunshine-yellow petals that compete with the many later shades of frigid white.


Nick Knight’s imaginative work with Pierpaolo Piccioli for Valentino Haute Couture

Post udostępniony przez Suzy Menkes (@suzymenkesvogue)

By the time Pierpaolo experiments with different, colourless textures, it becomes clear that these are not costumes but genuine gowns, begging to be developed for clients. The detail is evident, even if difficult to grasp on screen. 

“We didn’t want not to dream,” the designer explained, referring, no doubt to loyal or potential clients. One silvered dress, shimmering with layers of decoration as it flows to knees, calves and far, far below, has a regal grandeur. 

Valentino Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2020
© Nick Knight

Another white gown, with its forest of snowy leaves from the waist up, has a skirt falling down, down, down like a waterfall. 

Valentino Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2020
© Courtesy of Valentino

Leaving the colour and visual drama to his photographer friend, Pierpaolo takes a different path, with “no tricks, no gimmicks, no packaging, no story telling. Just creativity, fashion and humanity”.

Some of the models appear to be elevated on pedestals, while others seem to be suspended from the air, with skirts five feet longer than usual.

“It’s extreme – to reflect the extreme situation,” the designer said. “It was a silence full of emotions – a moment I will never forget in my life.” 


Of Grace and Light is a fashion film and live performance of @pppiccioli ‘s beautiful collection of incredible floating dresses of surreal proportions, created for @maisonvalentino . It was directed and filmed via Zoom working with a team of ( brilliant ) camera people in Rome by film maker @brittlloyd_ and myself from SHOWstudio in London . The idea was to show equal beauty in the digital fantasy as in the real life performance. In my opinion our highest achievement is our ability to use our imagination to create visions that are fantasy . @brittlloyd_ edited the film working with the amazing @fkatwigs and Nicolas Jaar . It was shown on a huge screen today in Rome at Cinecittà, the studio beloved by film director Felini . Watch the full performance via the link in bio.⠀ Thank you enormously to everyone who worked on this and huge thank you @pppiccioli for asking me to do this with you at the very beginning of this year . Full credits on next post ! See full film on SHOWstudio.com

Post udostępniony przez Nick Knight (@nick_knight)

But how does this collection compare with that exceptional moment one year ago when Pierpaolo chose to use entirely models of colour, receiving a standing ovation and reducing many in the audience to tears?

There is, to be brutally honest, no substitute for the real thing: live presentations with the graceful walk-past of models who bring, occasionally, that sense of rapture that marks fashion history.

The finale of the Valentino Haute Couture Autumn/Winter 2020 presentation
© Courtesy of Valentino

Yet, in a discomforting and unsettling period of our history, this couture film comes the nearest to amazing grace.

Suzy Menkes
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