PARIS -- It was a “Downton Abbey” moment by way of Rome and Paris on Tuesday afternoon when Valentino designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli showed their spring-summer 2013 collection during Paris Fashion Week. The designers, who have been at the helm of the fabled Roman fashion house since 2008, turned out a graceful collection of demure frocks that brought to mind the ladies of “Downton.”
Inspiration: Nostalgia for female sensuality, not sexuality.
The look: Modest. Ladylike. Dresses that skim rather than cling, leaving something to the imagination. Silhouettes that hit below the knee with slightly fitted waists. Dresses with rows of lattice-like stitching designed to show a hint of skin. Jumpsuits with lacy layers underneath. Exquisite lace dresses with long sleeves and delicate buttons. Lace suits with short capelets instead of jackets. Floral tea dresses with puffy sleeves. High-neck gowns painted with flowers. A clear trench edged in studs or python added a slight edge. Wedge sandals and sling-backs came with jeweled Lucite heels. A powdery color palette of blush, ivory, beige, rose and black.
The scene: You had to forget trying to be a lady when fighting through the scrum of photographers angling for shots of Valentino, who was there himself, as well as Jennifer Lopez and her beau, Casper Smart.
The verdict: Sweet success, gorgeous craftsmanship. The designers have taken Valentino’s fiercely feminine DNA and softened it, making it their own, and tweaking it ever so slightly each season.