Valentino The Beginning was undeniably the most theatrical of fashion shows this summer, at the Haute Couture F/W 22/23 week. "A dialogue with personal history, an ideal conversation with the founder through a collection of moments, themes, colors, materials, signs, lines, following the map of taste and sentiment," as their letter to editors stated.
This reconnection to the brand's very roots started with the venue of the show, on the Spanish Steps in Piazza di Spagna, where the original Valentino atelier began its fashion history. There were plenty of celebrities in attendance, including Emirati singer Balqees Fathi, supermodel forever Naomi Campbell, American stars Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway and actors Andrew Garfield and Charles Melton. All wearing stunning clothes from the maison's Creative Director Pierpaolo Piccioli.
On the steps, stunning outfits in iconic Valentino Red, worn by both male and female models, including this mini dress made up of 3D roses, the couture season's newest and most prevalent trend, plus new shades of yellows, purples and greens, worn with net pantyhosed legs -- something we haven't seen in a while -- and feathered shoes.
It's all so beautiful, we didn't know where to look.
In Sicily, meanwhile, Dolce and Gabbana reconnected with their roots, by holding the show in front of the Cathedral of Syracuse, a Unesco Heritage Site, in the hometown of the brand's co-creator Domenico Dolce. They showed Sicilian widows, brought in celebrities from Mariah Carey to Helen Mirren along with Sharon Stone, Kris Jenner and Drew Barrymore, and also featured a coat made up of roses, this time a lilac shade of pink.
Back in Paris, Balenciaga didn't want to be outdone, and Demna's designs were just part of the show, along with the celebrities in attendance and the music. As Vogue writer Sarah Mower pointed out in her recap, "it was a performance, on every level, as we’ve come to expect from one of the few fashion designers in the world who most successfully commands attention."
Neoprene to start, followed by looks worn by celebrities like Nicole Kidman and Kim K. to end, it was a show -- a real exhibition of fashion at its fullest and most outlandishly cool.
Balmain cutie Olivier Rousteing designed this season's Jean Paul Gaultier haute couture collection and what a wow that was too. Tapping into the Gaultier irreverence and spirit, the original appeal of the French designer, Rousteing found himself surrounded by pregnant looking aliens of all shades, tin can wearing models and Kim K. once again, a friend he often thanks for her support on his Insta account. And Kim K. brought North West with her, who wore stop signs. Yes, that's Paris Couture Week!
Arab designers showing in Paris included Elie Saab and Zuhair Murad. The latter, Murad took us through the supernatural this season, with images of planets and the horoscopes, maybe his attempt to ask the stars to provide us all with a luckier future. The world certainly isn't at its best these days. His couture collection was inspired by symbols of esoteric spirituality and by the magic of the cosmos, which is more and more what humans are turning to in these uncertain times.
Saab instead showed menswear along with his coveted womenswear, and what a time to be a male fashionista this has turned out to be! The menswear collection was almost more beautiful than the women's one this time around, and that is saying a lot.
“I’ve been receiving requests to dress men for quite some time,” explained the Lebanese designer backstage to Vogue. “They want to show off, to be visible, to get the attention.” In his clothes, they certainly will.
All images courtesy of the designers, used with permission.