As a longer, virtual Fall 2020 Haute Couture week came to a close this morning with Valentino's digital presentation, brides sheltering in place worldwide—with weddings postponed, gatherings on pause, and the dreams of walking down the aisle on hold—got a much needed mood boost from Pierpaolo Piccoli. In an experience unlike any other we've seen this season, the designer gave them (and us) the fashion-forward, wedding-worthy moment everyone's been waiting for. Sixteen moments to be exact.
Piccoli collaborated with London-based photographer Nick Knight for what can only be described as a circus of light, color, shape, and proportion. A film created by the duo was the start to an otherworldly presentation of all white looks. Per Valentino, "White, the sum of all colors, captures the blank slate of this new beginning, the sense of infinite possibilities. White as a sheet of paper waiting for it to be filled with lines and ideas. White as the toile, a symbol of the workmanship and dedication, the first step in the construction process...a possibility." While Piccoli used the color as a symbol for the new beginning he was hoping to introduce to a world compromised and deeply affected by the global pandemic, he also used it as a blank slate for dreams—which feels most apropos when one considers that, in the process, he introduced 16 new bridal silhouettes for clients of the house to fantasize about.
And fantasy, like in the world of weddings, was ever-present in Piccoli's latest Couture range, with each look offering a new take on what a modern bride could be. Couturiers have traditionally capped off their collections with an out-of-this-world look for the aisle, and this season introduced new bridal archetypes that are sure to appear on aisles post-pandemic. At Valentino, there wasn't a bridal style that wasn't flipped on its ear; there was a fresh look at the prairie bride, the futuristic bride, the glamour girl, the goddess, the traditionalist, the princess, the maverick, the romantic, and the renegade. And then there were the new brides; women we've yet to meet, whose aisles we can now dream about at a time when fantasy is all we have.
But then again, business is business. At a time when retail is standing still and Haute Couture clients cannot travel to Paris to place orders at price points that could sustain a house for a season, Valentino's lean in to ivory is also appealing to the customer Haute Couture will always cater to: the luxury bride. While bridal is viewed, more often than not, as the stepchild to the fashion world, Piccoli's Haute Couture range might just be a nod to the lifeblood that could stand to sustain fashion's most historic and high-end realm. You heard it here first: Weddings might just be the secret to how fashion's best stay in business.
But back to the fantasy—because isn't that what Haute Couture is all about, really? Piccoli's dreamscape should serve to inspire anyone, but particularly those planning and curating celebrations in a mid- and post-COVID-19 world. Unlike those who spoke of the pandemic's limitations on their atelier's workflow and production processes, Piccoli's collection—despite not being 30-plus looks and shown in person—felt limitless. Bespoke embroideries were impossible, and yet in 16 expertly-crafted looks, we didn't seem to miss them; a runway show was out of the question, but models positioned sky-high on stilts, rings, and flying trapezes worked to suspend our expectations and the reality of the global moment.
While stunning in all its beauty, glitz, feathers, flowers, and more, Piccoli's message seems to speak directly to the modern bride: "Couture as an invite to dream with open eyes." And as you would to any invite you'd never pass up, répondez s'il vous plaît.
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