Thursday 4th July

| BY Claudia Croft

Valentino: Couture AW19

Pierpaolo Piccioli refreshes the parts other designers cannot reach. His Maison Valentino shows are not just fashion happenings but emotional moments. He doesn’t just make clothes but manages to distil the best parts of being human and stitch it into every seam. He sees couture as the ultimate expression of individuality and lavishes each piece with a beauty and generosity of spirit that transcends price, class or creed. The woman, the human, the beating heart are what comes to the fore.

This show had it all. From a yellow dreadlocked dress with matching hat, to Kaia Gerber in an extraordinary space-age cape and matching hood, the colour of a watermelon. It had Lauren Hutton, 75, swathed in a pink duster coat and pea-green day dress and orange boots. It had sensational swoops of glitter eye makeup, and glorious appliqué flower gowns. There were bucolic scenes embroidered into slender column dresses and grand gowns made from many metres of gathered mint green taffeta. One glittering silver dress was worn with a headdress that looked like a cloud of space dust. Each piece stood alone as a statement of individuality. For the designer, this is the point.

Couture is an intimate art. Fashioned for one individual, on their body, the whole process is incredibly intimate. Each piece is as unique as a fingerprint and made by hand – human hands. At the end of the show the designer took his bow with his entire atelier – over sixty of them. A couture collection is symphonic and Piccioli is a great conductor. As these men and women walked through the salon, to a standing ovation, many editors had tears in their eyes. Isn’t it amazing what humans hands can do? Isn’t it incredible what beauty they can create? Isn’t it moving to stand together in appreciation? This was not shallow emotion, but deeply felt. We wept. Big, wet life-affirming tears.

Photographs by Jason Lloyd-Evans