On Tuesday, as the autumn/winter 2020 couture season came to an end, it was Pierpaolo Piccioli’s turn to show Valentino’s collection to a small audience of local press in Rome.
After the fashion industry was forced to cancel events and halt manufacturing during lockdown, high-end fashion houses have mostly left behind the traditional catwalk and replaced them with forms of digital experience to showcase their collections.
The show, entitled “The Performance: of Grace and Light, a dialogue between Piccioli and Nick Knight”, celebrated the beauty of haute couture, but also the ability of digital to enhance the world of fashion.
The show was a hybrid between a physical and digital experience, staged in a darkened void, shot on the famed Cinecitta movie lot. The show revealed 15 dramatic all white gowns, exaggerated in size, some up to five metres long, whilst a soundtrack of unreleased recordings from FKA twigs played to set the mood.
With no runway to walk, the models appeared suspended from the ceiling or standing on columns in their larger than life Valentino gowns, as images of flames, bouquets of flowers, and other natural elements were projected on the surface.
The collection conveyed an angelic quality as it featured gowns with otherworldly elements like effervescent feathers over a sequinned bodysuit, silver fringes, cascades of feathers, ruffles, chiffon and taffeta. The gowns’ immaculate white colour increased their purity and gave the appearance of blank canvases to write this new chapter.
In a Zoom press conference, Piccioli explained he’d conceptualised the collection as “an extreme response” to the tough circumstances of lockdown. The notion of taking the show to Cinecitta, Rome’s “factory of dreams,” led him to add the concept of “the magic of early cinema,” evoking the silent movie imagery of with silver sequins and waterfalls of glittering fringe.
"The tangible is morphed by the intangible," Valentino also said of the show in a press release. "A dream solidifies to turn immediately back into a dream: a possible one, made real by the digital in dialogue with the human. Couture as an invite to dream with open eyes.”
A digitalised romantic fantasy is the best way to describe the Italian luxury groups collection for the Fall 2020 season as it ushered audiences into a dreamscape and acted as an ode to both the history of the brand and the Italian film industry, whilst truly upholding the standards of haute couture.
By Natalie Reppas