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Valentino’s Eco Modernism

Godfrey Deeny
January 28th, 2010 @ 00:17 AM - Paris

We got a large dollop of eco modernist fashion from Valentino Wednesday night, Jan. 27, in the house’s latest haute couture collection, presented before huge images of swaying digital trees projected onto the walls of the medieval convent hospital where the show was staged.

“Hidden Eden” was the name the design duo of Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli gave to the collection, an evocative display of naturalistic fashion and quivering clothes.

In a show and collection that neatly juxtaposed technology and nature, the two defining materials were telling – soft chiffon and hard sharkskin, or to use its technical term, galuchat. These two were combined in one remarkable jacket, a curvy biker jacket that had lots of chutzpah and a cashmere trim. Think cashmere cruisin’ couture.

This Roman design duo could certainly not be faulted for failing to take risks. They even invented a new garment, a single sleeve jump suit with a hint of a tunic, which they christened the “jump dress.” Later they whipped up a super multicolored pastel feather jacket that had “cover shoot” written all over it.

Throughout the look was ethereal, the models wafting by between the twisting trees, the yellow, rose and flesh hues of the clothes mirrored by technical versions of the same colors on the screen.

“Elongated insects,” was how Piccioli termed the lean look and silhouette he and Chiuri wanted models to have on the catwalk.

The season’s final major show of the spring 2010 Paris Haute Couture season, the Valentino show was exquisitely staged, from the gnarled digital trees rotating slowly on the walls by Los Angeles installation artist Jennifer Steinkamp, to the aromatic soundtrack – everything from Debussy to Antony and the Johnsons.

In yet another visual catwalk reference to "Avatar" – the key inspiration of Jean Paul Gaultier’s show – there was a little Pandora panache at Valentino, where models appeared in "Avatar" blue shoulders and humanoid makeup. Moreover, the massive quantities of colorful ruched chiffon on display – one seamstress said they needed 8O meters for just one dress – suggested the tribal Pandora fantasies of the hit movie.

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