Creative Directors Pierpaolo Piccioli and Anthony Vaccarello couldn’t resist the charm of the Serenissima: the chosen event location for the presentation of Valentino Fall 2021 Couture Collection and Saint Laurent SS22 respectively. But how could we blame anyone for falling in love with Italy’s most romantic city?
Words by: Gilda Bruno
If there’s one thing that we understood over the last 48 hours is that July 2021 marked a fashionable moment in the history of the Venetian Lagoon.
From Valentino mounting its Fall 2021 Couture Collection show inside the city’s Gaggiandre — the historic complex composed of two massive shipyards and a dock, now home to the Venice Biennale — at the Arsenale to Saint Laurent staging a mesmerising, plant-filled mirrored catwalk on the Venetian island of Certosa, Venice appears to be enjoying a triumphal fashion momentum. Again, who wouldn’t love to see their creations parade sinuously on the sunset-lighted water of Venice canals? Personally, I wouldn’t mind it.
Find out what went down at the two iconic shows below.
VALENTINO FALL 2021 COUTURE SHOW live from Venice Arsenale (July 15)
As a live-played version of Calling You (1987), sung by British singer Cosima, accompanied the models as they strolled elegantly through the premises of Venice’s breathtaking architectural gem, Maison Valentino set the tone for an Haute Couture show worth the cultural heritage and decades-long reputation of The Italian fashion house par excellence.
A meticulously balanced juxtaposition of contrasting colours, from pink and acid yellow to lucid green and matte purple, permeated the collection, which featured, among the others, colourful stencil-like prints, mismatched designs emerged from the combination of different textiles, and ‘sipped’ shiny details, adding notes of light to this season’s couture presentation.
Including both womenswear and menswear offerings, Valentino Fall 2021 Couture Collection also dared to play with a wide variety of cuts, volumes, and silhouettes, comprising garments as diverse as double-face balmacaan coats, cashmere capes, puffball micro minis, trapeze-cut dresses, and longuette skirts. Overall, Pierre Cardin, Madame Grès, and Roberto Capucci appear to have served as main inspirations for the show, although — quite obviously — the finishing touch was added by references to Valentino himself.
Confirming the Maison’s enduring dedication to supporting and pushing the boundaries of the art world, the presentation was further enriched with numerous artist collaborations under the curatorial supervision of Gianluigi Ricuperati.
Having selected a shortlist of 17 painters, including Wu Rui, Jamie Nares, Francis Offman, Andrea Respino, and Luca Coser to name a few, Ricuperati supervised the handmade reproduction of the sourced artworks in direct collaboration with Valentino’s skilled artisans — who, relying on different mediums, translated the artistic eclecticism of the shortlisted painters onto a selection of different textiles, from ball gowns to capes and satin looks.
What else can we add if not a well-deserved bravo to Piccioli and the whole equipe of creatives that made this Venetian dream come true?
SAINT LAURENT SS22 live from Certosa (July 14)
Saint Laurent SS22 couture show kicked off with a musical incipit that appeared to echo Paolo Sorrentino’s dreamy take of a flooded, gold-shaded St. Mark’s Square from the director’s acclaimed masterpiece Youth (2015). In the Maison’s version of the famous scene — starring a confused Michael Caine as a retired composer of classical music trudging on a walkway covered in water during one of his nightmares — a model moved confidently on the surface of water as the sunlight shining at his back drew his silhouette nitidly.
Soon after the opening scene, viewers were introduced to Green Lens: the majestic kaleidoscopic plant-filled installation developed by artist Doug Aitken for the launch of Saint Laurent SS22. A 10-pronged pavillion where reflective surfaces have been strategically alternated with thriving foliage, Green Lens was designed with the idea of creating a “living artwork, a lush forest-scape” as the artist explained himself.
The plants employed in the development of the installation — which is set to remain on display on the island of Certosa through July 2021 — will be donated to the local community, while Saint Laurent promised to fund the restoration of damaged cloister ruins on the location. All choices were purposefully taken to bring the desolated island of Certosa “back to life.”
Fashion-wise, black and neutrals dominated the entire collections, with looks styling floating satin capes, razor-cut monochromatic suits, and pie-crust wide collars. On this occasion, Creative Director Anthony Vaccarello engaged the public with a gothic-inspired statement, and what better location to do so than the “queen” of Gothic Revival architecture?
The manifest edginess of the collection was further enhanced by the punk hairstyle and make-up audaciously worn by the models of the French fashion house, whose appearance vaguely winked at the Venice-based horror film Don’t Look Back Now (1973).
The somewhat eerie catwalk of Saint Laurent living muses appeared even more intimidating when looking at the pastel shades ‘painting’ the locus amoenus that hosted the label’s couture presentation. Deep v-necks, black cravats, ribbons, and silver necklaces adorned the upper figure of the models as they presented viewers with tight lamé trousers, loose satin pyjama suits, and embroidered tops. Although Vaccarello‘s spooky Venetian tale might not necessarily match the taste of everybody, it is clear that this collection won’t go unnoticed.