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.

Giambattista Valli's Not So Experimental Reverie

Godfrey Deeny
January 24th, 2012 @ 00:28 AM - Paris

Giambattista Valli is the most important new house to enter the Paris couture scene in the past decade. His dreamy floral style has won an especially chic following and been influential in creating a new, femininely extroverted look in fashion.

His clothes are preciously beautiful and attention grabbing, as was the spring 2012 haute couture collection he showed Monday evening, Jan. 23, in Paris, the opening day of the season here.

Many looks were quite simply ravishing - cocktails detailed in a multiplicity of puckered chiffon buds and tops peppered in a scattering of fabric leaves. Their delicacy and subtle transparency, their flawless bows and curvy grace, their elegant twisted metal flower belts together made this a special occasion. It would be hard to imagine a gent having a more chic companion that a lady dressed in Valli's pink cocktail with chiffon shawl collar and erratic petals, or his risque boudoir see-through mini paired with a puff shouldered top. These earned sighs of approval from the audience - boasting every important fashion editor of note - perched on Louis XVI chairs in the gilded salon in the Hotel Crillon.

"The ABC of couture," opined Valli backstage after being hugged by actress fan Diane Kruger.

However, Valli's very desire to show off his atelier's skill to prove his mastery of couture's demanding skills ultimately weighed on quite a few looks, particularly for evening. Too often the net effect was overly grand, notably the ruby gowns or micro Hortensia print finale.

It was telling that an earlier polkadot dress was memorable precisely for its relative simplicity - gathered at the hip, twisted high on one shoulder and all the better for being unadorned.

Valli has been staging artful ready-to-wear shows since 2005, though this only his second season in couture, famed as the laboratory of fashion ideas. Which was the problem with this show - it did not come across as particularly experimental. The result is a certain lack of growth in Valli's style - even if there was a great deal of beauty on display.

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