Friday, February 15, 2008

Valentino’s swan song collection bears his signature traits and more.

Flower power: Puff balls on the neckline and hemline make this an interesting outfit.

ONE of the last fashion greats and his last ready-to-wear collection – now, surely that’s something worth recording for posterity. After 45 long years, 75-year-old Valentino Garavani finally bade farewell to the fashion world with a prêt a porter show in Paris last October, and with his haute couture collection, also in Paris, last month.

Already, we have Alessandra Facchinetti replacing him for women’s wear, while Ferruccio Pozzoni, formerly from Prada, steps in for men’s wear. Will they steer the fashion house (bought by a British investment fund last May) to new heights design-wise, or is it going be a slow gradual change so as not to upset Valentino’s legion of fans, and his wealthy and influential clientele?

Perhaps the spring/summer 2008 women’s ready-to-wear collection, retrospective of his extensive work, provides some pointers on the choices that will be made.

Sheer elegance: Bodice with crocheted effect and layers of ruffles.
Valentino’s final bow should fittingly have his trademark bows, and he did not disappoint. A case in point is a vintage Valentino one-shoulder aquamarine gown with a bow at the strap and another on the side. A sheer white sheath with plunging neckline held together with a bow and a row of bows at the back with a peek-a-boo effect proves his classic appeal.

The classy display of flesh is one of the more prominent looks of this collection. Swathes of material are cut into strips and crafted together expertly, done in his signature draping style that exposes a bit of skin here and there. The use of see-through lace and other sheer material is also thrown in.

Ruffles rule in flirty red numbers – giving a feathered effect – and layered hems.

The perfect accessory to go with many of the cocktail dresses (never mind the matching shoes) seems to point towards the Dalmatian. Polka dots, mainly in black or white, seem to be a common theme (though there are colour variations). Cruella de Vil would surely be pleased with Valentino.

Some of the outstanding pieces from the collection use the floating tie detail to perfection, particularly a stunning sheath ivory gown with thick sequined layers at the bottom of the gown.

Puffballs (reminiscent of sea anemones, perhaps?) on hems and necklines (and even sleeves) also figure prominently in some outfits. Utilised well, they look quite stylish but in some pieces, they look rather dated.

If it’s something trendy that you’re angling for, Valentino’s toga adaptations are aplenty, in variations for day to eveningwear.

Aside from his signature red, the colour palette took a cue from the rainbow as outfits appeared in a riot of colours and didn’t seem to gel with the seasonal thinking.

Some critics say that Valentino was stuck in a time warp (while others feel he never quite left the 80s) when he designed this collection. As his swan song, this collection should be celebrated for all that he’s been noted and acclaimed for.