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.

Giambattista Valli’s Dignified Damsels

Godfrey Deeny
July 05th, 2011 @ 00:00 AM - Paris

Magic, where reality has even briefly a supernatural charm, seems the right term to use in describing the debut haute couture collection of Giambattista Valli, so evocative was the elegance of its spirit, so otherworldly its mood.

For Valli, a Roman-born designer based in Paris for two decades, this fall 2011 couture collection, was very much a rite of passage. He has been a heralded designer for the past 10 years, first as the only acclaimed successor to Emanuel Ungaro, latterly with his own ready-to-wear label. But scaling the tricky heights of French haute couture was always going to be the key test of his talent.

Staged Monday evening, July 4, in a central Paris passage, underneath where Valli’s headquarters is located, the models emerged from his boutique – opened only in January of this year – marching almost solemnly along the checkered covered walk.

Valli’s will always be a quirky take on fashion – his couture invitation underlined that, a snap of a battered French apartment door, chips, cracked paint and all. But his is a classy, new take on modern dressing, where the traditions of the past are subverted to make something fresh and formidable.

Throughout the contrast between his semi-curvaceous yet restrained silhouette and hyper exotic finish was striking. Like white blossom or silk lemon embroidered flowers on crepe and chiffon dresses or remarkable coral beadings and shells on gazar coats. Dissected with delicate metallic daisy and floral belts and anchored by pearl encrusted pumps and sandals, the look was dignified yet also dramatic.

“It was the right time for me to make the step into couture, but what maybe surprised me was how natural it felt. Nothing felt forced,” said Valli, post show, to FWD. Very much the favorite of both the cool young set and classy grand dames – everyone from Olivia Palermo to Lee Radziwill sat front row, Valli has become a major force in modern fashion.

For evening, the debut couturier wowed with ostrich feather dresses and crisp shirts, featuring his snappy new GBV logo. Though his most appreciated look was probably a sexy widow Spanish mantilla combo, of lovingly draped lace with veil. It earned gasps of appreciation.

Couture is very much an elite phenomena, reserved for the very rich and their offspring. And at first site this playground of the pampered might seem irrelevant to the vast majority of women. Yet it’s very search for perfection allows it to predict the future, which suggest that very soon women in many countries will yearn for this sort of classy glamour, covered up yet sexy, dainty yet defiant.

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