It is hard not gush over Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli’s creations for Valentino. Season after season the designer duo weave their visual vocabulary into what can justifiably be called wearable art.
Their Spring-Summer 2016 ready-to-wear collection is a study of contrasts: the sheer and the opaque, the hard and the soft, leather and lace, the sculptural and the graphic.
Leather plays a big part in the collection and it comes in fascinating forms—studded, embossed , scraped, knotted in fine strips and even printed. Some pieces look deceptively simple; a black leather dress with a pleated skirt is adorned by a collar of feathers. A dress made out of studded leather strips and pieces is held together by lace. There are also multi-textured leather bodices paired with flowing printed maxi dresses.
There is a certain mystique to the collection given the rich decorative elements that hint at tribal motifs which, even in their traditional context, would confine us to a shallow admiration of their aesthetic merits alone. But in this instance, Chiuri and Piccioli have fashioned the body into a meeting place and melting pot of disparate elements seeking elegance and harmony.
European fashion designers have always borrowed motifs from cultures near and far. And even though pattern and color have historically been used to communicate an exclusive form of identity, considering the current political climate, the gesture from the world of fashion is, in this case, one of assimilation and respect.