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Armani Conquers China, Chastises the Pope June 01st, 2012 @ 11:53 AM



.

Valentino Hauntingly Russian Couture

Godfrey Deeny
July 06th, 2011 @ 11:56 AM - Paris

Russian imperial, romantic, revelatory and reeking of the richest quality, the latest Valentino haute couture collection was a tour de force of taste and one of the most beautiful moments seen in Paris in many season.

Inspired by the famed emigre couple of Prince Felix Yusupov and his wife Irina Romanov, niece of the last Russian Czar Nicholas II, the collection echoed the opulence of Tsarist Russia, though scrupulously avoiding any too literal references.

“It’s dedicated to the Russian ladies who lost everything but managed to build a life in the West. It’s a homage to women who have to start again, which we think is very relevant today. Though seen with a contemporary take on fashion,” explained Pier Paolo Piccioli, after he and design partner Maria Grazia Chiuri had taken an extended tour of the twisting catwalk in the Rothschild mansion on Wednesday, July 6.

Opening with Cossack coats in obsidian cashmere or icon coats in hammered gold, sections of the audience audibly gasped at the exceptional workmanship. The program notes even included the number of hours intricate work – generally hundreds - had been carried out on many pieces.

While grand, the clothes were also exceedingly delicate – one stunning “nuage” or cloud dress was made of a semi-transparent mesh of tulle over which was sewn a lattice of pearls. It took 1,200 hours of workmanship to complete. Or should we say work-woman-ship, as “les petits mains,” or little hands, are nearly always women.

Post show, Valentino company president Stefano Sassi, held up the hammered gold coat on a rack backstage and pointedly stated: “The embroidery on this coat alone cost $50,000, if you want an example of our commitment to the highest quality and to couture.”

Delicate strands of hair, held with crystal-encrusted headbands added a Slavic touch yet also very current, ideally summing up the whole ladylike mood of Paris couture this season.

For evening, the Romanov mood breathed through in Russian tea dresses in chantilly and a truly stunning moire dress with velour leaves and flowers, an all time classic look in powder and earthy green.

A huge mood board backstage was covered in images of
Prince Felix Yusupov, the man who organized the assassination of the infamous holyman Rasputin, and his beautiful wife Irina. After escaping the Communist Revolution and reaching the west, they founded Irfe – a composition of the names – winning a small cult following among European and American customers, impressed by the aristocratic style, and Yusupov’s dramatic past.

The prince had little feel for business, and apparently the odd habit of greeting clients attired in long dresses, so the house collapsed two years after the 1929 Wall Street crash. Acquired a half decade ago, by a Russian mini oligarch and his wife, Irfe has enjoyed a modest revival, though nothing it has created is anywhere near the class of this Valentino collection. An exceptional moment and the confirmation of the status of Piccioli and Chiuri as couture stars.

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