Thursday 24th January

| BY Claudia Croft

Valentino: Couture SS19

People wept at the Valentino show. Some were in floods. Pierpaolo Piccioli makes clothes that move people. His genius is to harness the power of beauty in all its breathtaking, surprising and utterly compelling glory. He does this with clothes that tap into the emotions. You can’t be impassive about Adut Akech in a pink satin hood, its vast, voluptuous folds framing her gorgeous head. You cannot say “so what?” when Kaia Gerber swans past in a tiered gown covered in so many moss green sequins that it weighed in at six kilos. It’s also impossible to be indifferent to Naomi Campbell, commanding the room in sheer black organza – the delicacy of her dress only enhanced by the power of her persona. No wonder the audience let out involuntary whoops when she strode by.

“The vocabulary, not the language, of Couture changes,” said the designer who took its traditional ruffles, frills, fringes and flowers to another level with his extravagant volumes. But it was his approach to colour – of his clothes and the models wearing them – that was particularly effective. Over half the models were women of colour. The designer explained he’d been thinking about the marginalising of black women both in the Renaissance art that inspired him and in the cannon of couture imagery that informs his work. He thought: What if Cecil Beaton’s famous 1948 tableau of a group of couture-clad models was recreated with black women? The results were breathtaking because each look was designed to complement and enhance the individual skin tones of the woman wearing it (this is where couture’s bespoke approach comes into its own). Their beauty was amplified. Naomi leading the way at Maison Valentino by Pierpaolo Piccioli SS19 Haute Couture.

Photography by Jason Lloyd-Evans.