PARIS - Occasionally there's a runway show that leaves you with your mouth agape, not because it is shocking or controversial or groundbreaking, but because it is none of those things but has simply managed to astound you by being gorgeous, in a manner that is timeless and universal.
There's nothing to figure out about the Valentino collection for fall 2018. There are no riddles, no concepts. These are just options. Yes, options for the wealthy. But rather than begrudge them their money, let's be bighearted and simply hope the wealthy recognize their good fortune and take as much joy in wearing some of these clothes as the less well-off have in admiring them from afar.
Designer Pierpaolo Piccioli's color palette is filled with shades of rose and fuchsia, geranium and pink. He mixes mint green, lime and seafoam in a single ensemble, and the effect is delicious. And slim trousers in camel are topped with a long, breezy top in cornflower blue.
His evening gowns are whimsical and charming - grownup without letting go of youthful frivolity. He offers strapless dresses and translucent ones, but no one ever looked overexposed. No garments ever seemed to be hanging by a thread.
In his program notes, Piccioli says "romanticism is strength" and "grace is authority." Those aren't exactly words that reflect the tenor of the times. Talk of emotion, nature and creativity - romanticism in the literary sense rather than the "Bachelor" worldview - is drowned out in an increasingly mechanized world. And well, grace as a kind of power? This is a world of if-they-punch-him-he-punches-back-a-thousand-times-harder. Grace is endangered.
So Valentino, in offering something inviting, gentle and gorgeous, is also offering something rare.
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