couture

Exclusive: Jean-Louis Sabaji’s Latest Collection Opens the Portal to a Magical Underwater Kingdom

Exclusive: Jean-Louis Sabaji’s Latest Collection Opens the Portal to a Magical Underwater Kingdom

Photo: Courtesy Jean-Louis Sabaji
10 years, thousands of followers, and countless noteworthy creations: Having completed a decade in the industry, designer Jean-Louis Sabaji is running stronger than ever. And for his latest drop, the Lebanese favorite has come up with yet another series of stunning ensembles that blur the lines between fashion and art.
This time around, Sabaji’s creative eye takes him on a journey under the sea, where soothing blues and pearly white clash with fiery reds and corals, and sculpted waves crash into golden seashells and shimmering mirror work. The inspiration behind the Fall 2022 Couture collection came from a holiday the designer took recently. “I’ve always found inspiration in Mother Nature, and especially so after a trip with my friends to Zanzibar, Tanzania. I fell in love with the sea all over again,” he tells Vogue Arabia in an exclusive chat. “We rented out a house by the beach where I lived the full experience of waking up to the sounds of the ocean for 10 days. I discovered so much above shore and under waters. I found myself waiting for high tide to become low, and got with me all the shells I could find and actually gold plated them and placed them on a few pieces in the collection. I found myself sketching every day until this collection came to life.”
Photo: Courtesy Jean-Louis Sabaji
The result is a series of mesmerizing dresses and gowns that would look just as elegant on the red carpet as they would at a beach party on a balmy evening. In true Jean-Louis Sabaji fashion, the couture selection takes a simple concept, and transforms into something out of a fantasy. Below, we find out more about the designer’s creative process, his favorite fashion memories, and his plans for the future.
Can you share any special memories you share with the sea or the seaside?
I was born and raised in Lebanon, so the Mediterranean is part of my DNA. I spent my whole childhood between the mountains and the sea. I was very intrigued by the fish in the sea, and was constantly looking for colored fish like the ones we saw in movies, until my parents got me an aquarium at home with two of the most colorful fish you can find.
Photo: Courtesy Jean-Louis Sabaji
Nature seems to be a theme that’s close to your heart. Why is this so?
I spent most of my summers in the mountains and we had a very big garden filled with all types of trees and plants. My parents were also passionate about raising animals. We had a rooster, chickens, flamingoes and birds. It’s hard not to find inspiration when I was surrounded by all the beautiful things nature offers.
If you could pick one hero piece from this collection, which one would it be, and why?
The hero piece of this collection is the dress with the big exaggerated seashell made out of copper. It was a piece I had thought of doing for a while, and the process of seeing it come to life was very enlightening. Every step of the creation was an experience, starting from creating the mold, to the gold plating, and then deciding to cover it with crystals. I love how the corset fits the body perfectly, and that it turned out to be better than I imagined it.
Photo: Courtesy Jean-Louis Sabaji
Fashion can make people feel a myriad of emotions. What do you hope to achieve with your creations? How do you hope to make your wearers feel?
Albert Camus once said, “If the world were clear, art would not exist.” Fashion is the art that we cannot escape from. I want my creations to be appreciated even if the woman doesn’t see herself wearing it. But for those who do go through the exclusive journey in my atelier and try on my dresses, all I want is for them to be comfortable, yet stand out with confidence.
Who, according to you, is the ultimate Jean-Louis Sabaji woman? What are her strongest personality traits?
The Sabaji woman is someone who is bold, feminine and loves to be unique. She is confident enough to wear statement pieces and be the best version of herself.
Photo: Courtesy Jean-Louis Sabaji
Name three women you hope to see wearing your creations someday.
As cliché as this might sound, I would love for my designs to be in EVERY woman’s closet someday.
What was the biggest challenge you faced while creating this line?
The beauty of couture is that the sky is the limit. Especially after launching a toned-down RTW line, I was able to be as conceptual as I want with this collection. Although you can see the theme clearly throughout the pieces, my biggest challenge was keeping it as wearable as I could.
Lastly, what is next for you?
There is project coming up in October that I can’t wait to share with everyone. Stay tuned!
Photo: Courtesy Jean-Louis Sabaji
Photo: Courtesy Jean-Louis Sabaji
Photo: Courtesy Jean-Louis Sabaji
Photo: Courtesy Jean-Louis Sabaji
Photo: Courtesy Jean-Louis Sabaji
Photo: Courtesy Jean-Louis Sabaji
Photo: Courtesy Jean-Louis Sabaji
Photo: Courtesy Jean-Louis Sabaji
Photo: Courtesy Jean-Louis Sabaji
Photo: Courtesy Jean-Louis Sabaji
Photo: Courtesy Jean-Louis Sabaji

10 Standout Accessories From Couture Fashion Week

10 Standout Accessories From Couture Fashion Week

Photo: Gorunway.com
There were plenty of accessories to note from the haute couture autumn/winter 2022 shows. Demna went high-tech at Balenciaga and debuted air-filtering face shields, made in collaboration with Mercedes-AMG F1, and speaker bags by Bang & Olufsen.
Mega jewelry was trending this season, too. Daniel Roseberry paired his sculptural couture looks with gargantuan earrings that skimmed models’ navels at Schiaparelli, Fendi debuted asymmetric brooches clipped onto gloves, while Olivier Rousteing made a case for the nose ring during his takeover at Jean Paul Gaultier.
Scroll on for a closer look at the best accessories from Couture Fashion Week.
Balenciaga’s face shields and speaker bags
Photo: Gorunway.com
Schiaparelli’s mega earrings
Photo: Gorunway.com
Viktor & Rolf’s preppy ties
Photo: Gorunway.com
Iris Van Herpen’s futuristic headbands
Photo: Gorunway.com
Alexandre Vauthier’s bejeweled corsages
Photo: Gorunway.com
Fendi’s micro gloves
Photo: Gorunway.com
Jean Paul Gaultier’s punky nose rings
Photo: Gorunway.com
Chanel’s whimsical hair bows
Photo: Gorunway.com
Valentino’s opera gloves
Photo: Gorunway.com
Giambattista Valli’s sci-fi shades
Photo: Gorunway.com
Originally published in Vogue.co.uk
Read next: 15 Brightly-Colored Accessories That Will Give All Your Summer Outfits a Boost

All the Highlights from Athens Xclusive Designers Week

All the Highlights from Athens Xclusive Designers Week

Photo: Courtesy of MK by Marios
Distinguished Greek fashion designers, international designers and infamous fashion brands all made their feature at the Xclusive Designers Week in Greece. The biannual event took place at the Zappeion Megaron this spring, which is an important national heritage site of Greek Civilization. Designers who made a feature ranged from Rami Kadi to Daphne Valente.
Scroll to see some of the highlights by seven iconic fashion designers.

Rami Kadi
Photo: Courtesy of Rami Kadi
This season, Athens Fashion Week hosted Rami Kadi as the guest of honour, featuring 43 of his dresses from his Spring/Summer 2022 collection, titled, ‘Lucid Algorithms’. His show displayed novel and unseen couture designs as exclusive custom pieces handcrafted for Athens Xclusive Designers, featuring bold colors and juxtaposing rhythms.
Vassilis Zoulias
Photo: Courtesy of Vassilis Zoulias
Vassilis Zoulias demi couture Fall/Winter 2022 collection titled ‘The Swans’ featured black and white pieces inspired by Truman Capote’s book, The Swans. The book harkens back to the 50s and 60s and speaks of the vivacious beauty of women like Marella Agnelli, Gloria Vanderbilt, Babe Paley and all members of prominent American and European families. The collection was rife with taffeta, faille, organza and satin and matched with fine lace and trimmings, all hand-made to perfection.
Paris Valtadoros
Photo: Panoulis Photography
Paris Valtadoros presented its collection, titled ‘Anasa’, transforming the Peristylion of Zappeion into a V-shaped runway with white decorative balloons. The collection consists of colorful creations combined with an eye for design. Particularly intense colors include yellow, fuchsia, green and rouge, symbolizing optimism. Wide sleeves, a variety of shoulder designs, metallic prints and dresses embellished with stones particularly stand out in this collection.
Daphne Valente
Photo: Panoulis Photography
Daphne Valente presented its ‘Summer Night Dream’ collection inspired by the famous William Shakespeare’s act Midsummer’s Night Dream which takes place in Ancient Greece. The impressive finale was the highlight of the show when the models appeared holding placards with socially-conscious messages such as “stop racism”, “say no to fast fashion” and “no bullying”. Designer Valente closed the show holding her own message with the quote, “All we need is love” and won the audience over.
Kathy Heyndels
Photo Courtesy of: Kathy Heyndels
Kathy Heyndels’s ‘Spectrum’ celebrated the Earth and its colors including sun yellow and sea blue. The collection featured romantic and feminine dresses as well as suits.
MK by Marios
Photo: Courtesy of MK by Marios
MK by Marios presented its ‘Luna Park/ Dark’ collection rife with metallic fabrics, colorful sequins. The prints were some of the most unique features of the collection, accentuated with their theatrical style, alongside rare headpieces.
Irene Angelopoulos
Photography: Panoulis Photography
Irene Angelopoulos presented her collection ‘Road-tripping to Freedom’ SS’22 abundant with vivid colors, airy dresses, cool combinations but also unique haute couture creations that characterize the workplace of the designer.
Read Next: Kate Middleton Just Recreated a Famous Royal Tour Moment in Her Sunshine Yellow Dress

The 10 Best Looks from Rami Al Ali’s Dreamy Spring/Summer 2022 Haute Couture Collection

The 10 Best Looks from Rami Al Ali’s Dreamy Spring/Summer 2022 Haute Couture Collection

Photo: Courtesy of Rami Al Ali
Trust Rami Al Ali to masterfully offer a vision of changing seasons through couture as an “homage to the dawn of spring.” Unveiled alongside Paris couture week, the Syrian designer’s Spring/Summer 2022 collection is a pastel dream of 22 looks that journey through seasons. “This collection’s theme is an optimistic one,” Al Ali shared with Vogue Arabia. “It is a positive force symbolized by the snow melting and spring blooming as the skies clear up from the heavy clouds that overwhelmed it over the past few seasons. I wanted the energy of my collection to be light, cheerful, and happy.” To that end, the color palette is thoughtfully curated to include mint green, citron yellow, and pale rose that represent warmth transitioning from the cooler and moodier icy blue and black.
Nearly a year after celebrating the 20th anniversary of his fashion house, the celebrity-loved designer showcases his honed aesthetic by offering both, delicately feminine and sharp structured pieces. Slinky dresses with sweeping cape sleeves contrast against show-stopping voluminous layered skirts, while his signature sculptured elements flow seamlessly into fluid draping in the same dress. The selection of fabrics and the craftsmanship rendered to them adds to the designer’s vision of shifting seasons to a great extent. Delicate and light muslin, tulle, satin, silk, and organza offer an air of dreaminess to the collection, crystals are used for a frost-like effect, and so is intricate beading in geometric patterns to appear as if they are melting off the gowns.
Take a look at the best pieces from Rami Al Ali’s Spring/Summer 2022 couture collection below.
Photo: Courtesy of Rami Al Ali
Photo: Courtesy of Rami Al Ali
Photo: Courtesy of Rami Al Ali
Photo: Courtesy of Rami Al Ali
Photo: Courtesy of Rami Al Ali
Photo: Courtesy of Rami Al Ali
Photo: Courtesy of Rami Al Ali
Photo: Courtesy of Rami Al Ali
Photo: Courtesy of Rami Al Ali
Photo: Courtesy of Rami Al Ali
Read Next: The 10 Best Looks from Elie Saab’s Mediterranean-Inspired Spring/Summer 2022 Haute Couture Collection

Exclusive: Ashi Studio’s Spring/Summer 2022 Haute Couture Collection Is Inspired by a Romantic Secret Garden

Exclusive: Ashi Studio’s Spring/Summer 2022 Haute Couture Collection Is Inspired by a Romantic Secret Garden

Ashi Studio haute couture spring/summer 2022
The city of Paris is currently abuzz with all the excitement that comes with haute couture week, and today, Paris-based Ashi Studio is all set to present its spring/summer 2022 couture collection to the world from the fashion capital. Titled ‘Heaven Scent’, the line encapsulates all that is elegant, culminating in a showcase that brings flora to life in the most unique way.
Seemingly taking inspiration from a flower-laced memory of romance, Ashi Studio’s spring/summer 2022 collection echoes the beauty of a secret garden, replete with hyacinths, jasmines, magnolias, violets, lilies, and roses. Sculpted to portray the delicate petals of blooms, the pieces in the display also come in a range of nature-inspired hues, starting with stark whites, cascading into powder pinks, earthy grays, and finally, charcoal black, all with a dose of rich scarlet thrown in for good measure. The creations from ‘Heaven Scent’ spotlight impeccable craftsmanship, evident in the light-as-air pleated pieces, dreamy feather-detailed fluttering blouses and grandiose layered gowns, all of which command attention in solid washes of color. You’ll also spot new-age hybrids in the collection, all of which was lovingly put together in Paris: a strapless red blouse making a statement with its voluminous feather train, off-shoulder capes offset with nothing but classic trousers, and dare we say ‘futuristic’ jackets with exaggerated shoulders—weightless, yet powerful.
Building up to the grand reveal, the Parisian fashion house’s Instagram page has been sharing snippets of what’s to come with the world. If you can’t wait to see the final pieces any longer, here’s a sneak peek at Ashi Studio‘s latest masterpiece.
Ashi Studio haute couture spring/summer 2022
Ashi Studio haute couture spring/summer 2022
Ashi Studio haute couture spring/summer 2022
Ashi Studio haute couture spring/summer 2022
Ashi Studio haute couture spring/summer 2022
Ashi Studio haute couture spring/summer 2022
Ashi Studio haute couture spring/summer 2022
Ashi Studio haute couture spring/summer 2022

The 10 Best Looks from Elie Saab’s Mediterranean-Inspired Spring/Summer 2022 Haute Couture Collection

The 10 Best Looks from Elie Saab’s Mediterranean-Inspired Spring/Summer 2022 Haute Couture Collection

Photo: Courtesy of Elie Saab
Elie Saab‘s first runway show in two years blossomed with flowers from a Mediterranean summer. The Lebanese designer’s Spring/Summer 2022 couture collection draws inspiration from the “beauty, heritage, and charm” of the Mediterranean landscape, and offers Saab’s vision of Eden on Earth.
With his signature gowns now elevated, skirts are even fuller, covered entirely in petal-like feathers. In a few firsts for the designer, Saab experimented with satin, shorter hemlines, and saturated hues instead of the usual muted palette. Shades of fuchsia and red charted a journey from dawn to dusk, while refreshing chartreuse, sea green and blue represented the sun setting on the ocean. Feminine mermaid tails, plunging necklines, and thigh-high slits offered a contrast against the sharp shoulders “like colonnades of ancient temples” that sat on top of slinky and billowing dresses. Necklines were also accentuated with floral appliqués made to look like bouquets, and sleeves were extended to form gloves embroidered with sequins. Fun to both, look at and wear, some pieces featured Greek and Roman-inspired tassels and fringe, while others displayed the house’s signature craftsmanship in the silk braided into intricate patterns. As for the Elie Saab bride, the dress was a pearl white creation with a floor-grazing round skirt, paired with a sheer shawl featuring an interplay of shimmering embroidery and feathers.
Take a look at the best pieces from Elie Saab’s Spring/Summer 2022 couture collection below.
Photo: Courtesy of Elie Saab
Photo: Courtesy of Elie Saab
Photo: Courtesy of Elie Saab
Photo: Courtesy of Elie Saab
Photo: Courtesy of Elie Saab
Photo: Courtesy of Elie Saab
Photo: Courtesy of Elie Saab
Photo: Courtesy of Elie Saab
Photo: Courtesy of Elie Saab
Photo: Courtesy of Elie Saab
Read Next: The 10 Best Looks from Zuhair Murad’s Pirate-Inspired Spring/Summer 2022 Haute Couture Collection

Valentino’s Empowering Spring/Summer 2022 Haute Couture Show Celebrates All Body Shapes

Valentino’s Empowering Spring/Summer 2022 Haute Couture Show Celebrates All Body Shapes

Valentino at Paris Couture Week. Photo: Alessandro Lucioni
Pierpaolo Piccioli is devoted to making haute couture relevant in a progressive world. Through his Valentino collections, he strives to make fashion’s most elitist corner reflective of the inclusive values of new generations, so that everyone can mirror themselves in its image. After years of infusing his collection with diversity, this season Piccioli embraced body awareness. He changed his entire approach to haute couture from the cutting board through sketching and draping his creations on people of different body types and ages. From fabrics to surface decorations, he created each garment according to the proportions of their bodies. It painted a contrast to the way couture usually works where a garment is created on a typically skinny silhouette and later scaled up or down according to the body of the client who buys it. During a preview in Valentino’s salons on Place Vendôme, Piccioli told British Vogue’s fashion critic Anders Christian Madsen why this process was so important to him.
Photo: Alessandro Lucioni
How was your process different this season?
“When you do couture, you have the house model. And you apply the body of the house model to 50 or 60 models on the runway. I wanted to break these rules and embrace the idea of different proportions of body, different sizes, different ages. But it was impossible to do this with just one house model. So, I broke the rules and got 10 house models with differently proportioned bodies.”
Photo: Alessandro Lucioni
What drove this decision?
“I don’t think haute couture belongs to the past. I think it can be relevant today if it stays focused on modernity. For me, the modernity of couture doesn’t mean the modernity of beauty, because beauty is beauty. But it means that the approach is different. You embrace humanity.”
How did you go about it?
“I started the collection studying the canons of eras and ages. Since the Middle Age, there has always been a canon of beauty. Now, you cannot have canons. Humanity is the canon. Everything is valid. So, in order to defeat this idea of couture belonging to the past, I couldn’t work with one house model.”
Photo: Alessandro Lucioni
Haute couture is made-to-measure. How is this collection different?
“When you sell couture, you adapt it to the person. When you rethink the process, you start facing a different body. When you study a body, it can be scientific, romantic or sexual. The three of them are close. And this way, it’s more human.”
What was the process like for you?
“It was about studying the process, not adapting the status to different proportions. For me, it was a very interesting process, because we got to create new silhouettes. When the atelier saw the different body proportions, it was like they were looking at new silhouettes.”
Photo: Alessandro Lucioni
What was your objective?
“I wondered if the classic idea of couture – the Cecil Beaton, the salons – could have different ranges of women with different proportions with different ages giving the same beauty, and giving them dignity? Because that’s important. It’s really important today to talk about body awareness.”
Do you think this has been missing in fashion?
“In runway shows, sometimes there are 50 skinny models and one bigger sized. I feel like you don’t really relate to that. You don’t believe that. You just tick the box. Sometimes when I see models of different proportions on the runway, they don’t have the same magic. That was the best: to give them the same emotion; the feeling of couture.”
Photo: Alessandro Lucioni
Anohni wrote the soundtrack for the show. What was your brief?
“She was very aware of this: the awareness of the body. That’s what we talked about: giving dignity to these bodies. That was a very important theme for her.”
Can you elaborate on the idea of a beauty canon founded in humanity?
“What I want to deliver is the idea that any canon is valid. In the ’30s you had to be long and thin, in the ’40s you have to be more horizontal with big shoulders, the ’50s were about softness, the ’60s were shorter and smaller and more nervous bodies, the ’70s brought again an elongated and kind of masculine body, the 80s had the big shoulders and boobs again, the ’90s had minimalism. And then plastic surgery…”
Photo: Alessandro Lucioni
How do you feel about this plastic surgery era?
“I don’t think the idea of trying to look like someone else is interesting. After [the rise in] plastic surgery, I think we all felt the urgency of talking about diversity and awareness of our bodies and different proportions of gender, sizes, cultures, identities. Once we had enough of all the canons, we discovered that humanity is the only canon that’s valid. Freedom. Be yourself. That’s the real canon.”
What message would you like to convey to people with this cast and process?
“It could deliver a strong message for young people who are struggling with something. If she’s beautiful, you can be beautiful.”
Originally published on Vogue.co.uk

8 Unforgettable Pictures of Rym Saidi in Her Glimmering Rami Al Ali Couture Gown at the Ball of Arabia

8 Unforgettable Pictures of Rym Saidi in Her Glimmering Rami Al Ali Couture Gown at the Ball of Arabia

Rym Saidi in Rami Al Ali. Photo: Dazl Production
Among the host of dazzling gold gowns at Vogue‘s Ball of Arabia, Rym Saidi‘s subtle yet elegant take on the night’s dress code was a noteworthy stand-out moment. The Tunisian actor took the pale gold route on December 12, and breezed into Raffles The Palm Dubai in a gown by Syrian couturier Rami Al Ali, cementing her spot among the best dressed at the grand event.

The strapless dress with a structured corset top flowed into a floor-grazing pleated skirt with a high slit, and was picked from the UAE-based designer’s Fall/Winter 2021 collection. Saidi, who also fronted Vogue Arabia’s May 2019 issue, channeled the model in her as she posed for the cameras at the ball, with lights reflecting off of the sharp pleats of her dress. The star’s look was curated by celebrity stylist Cedric Haddad and served as the perfect mix of regional and international talent, complete with Jimmy Choo heels, a gemstone-adorned Bulgari choker, and matching earrings (notice how one featured a ruby while the other championed a sapphire) that complemented her regal updo.

For the mother-of-two married to actor Wissam Breidy, picking a Rami Al Ali creation for the Ball of Arabia celebrating the UAE was an easy choice. Both, the designer and star, have adopted Dubai as their home, and there could not have been a better way to honor their connection to the country than by coming together to create this memorable sartorial moment. Speaking to Vogue Arabia, the actor shared why the gold number will also be one to remember for her. “I don’t usually wear gold, but it is the most luxurious color,” she said. “It is almost the end of the year, so it is a great occasion to wear the color, especially at this beautiful ball.” Saidi also took the opportunity to spotlight the strength of Emirati women, saying, “I am so proud of them—what they are doing and what they have done already. I am proud as an Arab woman living here in the UAE, and I want to see more and more Emirati women on top.”
Below, more snapshots of Saidi from the evening.

Read Next: Mona Zaki to Dorra Zarrouk: The Most Beautiful Gold Gowns from Vogue’s Ball of Arabia 2021

Jennifer Lopez Walked the Red Carpet With Ben Affleck in a Romantic Blue Elie Saab Couture Gown

Jennifer Lopez Walked the Red Carpet With Ben Affleck in a Romantic Blue Elie Saab Couture Gown

Jennifer Lopez in Elie Saab. Photo: Instagram.com/robzangardi
Jennifer Lopez kept her love for Arab designers going strong in a couture dress by Elie Saab last evening. The award-winning pop star, who often champions regional talent, recently walked the red carpet for the Los Angeles premiere of The Tender Bar, wearing a waterfall-like soft blue piece designed by the Lebanese couturier.

Picked from the Beirut-based designer’s Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2021-2022 collection, the sweeping gown in pastel blue silk mousseline featured a romantic silhouette of a plunging neckline and cinched waist, which was adorned with a velvet bow. Styled by Rom Zangardi, Lopez went sans necklace and accessorized her look with a pair of crystal earrings, a bracelet, and a Tyler Ellis clutch. As for her glam for the night, Chris Appleton matched the charming look of the dress with soft waves done in a half-up, half-down hairstyle, showing off her smoky eye, glowing skin, and peachy nude lip combo.
Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez share a moment on the red carpet. Photo: Instagram.com
The dress—although toned down in comparison to most of the star’s red carpet appearances—served as the perfect date night outfit for Lopez, who came with beau Ben Affleck. The actor stars in The Tender Bar, the coming-of-age film directed by George Clooney which releases this month. The duo, as they often tend to do, looked perfect together on the red carpet, where they were seen sharing a little secret and a laugh in front of cameras.

While Lopez is known to often wear designs by Zuhair Murad and even admitted that he is probably her favorite, fellow Lebanese designer Elie Saab might also have found a fan in the 52-year-old. Earlier this year, the ‘Jenny From The Block’ singer posed for a post-getaway photo in a green embroidered dress from Elie Saab’s fall 2021 ready-to-wear collection. This followed her look at the Global Citizen Vax Live Concert, where she walked the red carpet in a sparkling silver and white Elie Saab jumpsuit.
Read Next: Jennifer Lopez’s Most Stunning Fashion Moments, Courtesy of Arab Designers

Is Fashion Art? Pierpaolo Piccioli and Manuel Arnaut Discuss Over an Exclusive Preview of Valentino’s Couture Collection

Is Fashion Art? Pierpaolo Piccioli and Manuel Arnaut Discuss Over an Exclusive Preview of Valentino’s Couture Collection

With his latest couture collection, Pierpaolo Piccioli brings further glory and modernity to the house of Valentino. Take a closer look to witness these gowns tell the shared story of today.
Photographed by Bruno & Nico van Mossevelde
Entering the Paris headquarters of Valentino in Place Vendôme makes you feel like a child again; awakening memories of visiting a more formal relative’s home, with your mother reminding you to wear a clean shirt and be on your best behavior. The space feels palatial and serene, and the high ceiling salon walls are adorned with intricate gold molding. Light is abundant, shining through big windows that frame the bronze Vendôme column, right in the beating heart of Parisian luxury.
Pierpaolo Piccioli. Photo: Inez & Vinoodh
As I’m escorted into one of the rooms, I’m asked to not take any pictures, as some of the looks I’m about to see have not been revealed to the public and are only on display for an exclusive preview granted to Vogue Arabia ahead of Valentino’s couture show in Venice, which would take place two weeks later. Looking around me, I spot a magnificent gown made from a patchwork of pink and purple fabrics, a white maxi cape and dress with a splash of red, and a skirt and jacket suit that, at first glance, remind me of a Miró. There are also paintings and drawings next to each look, motioning that there is some sort of artistic collaboration behind each design. In the best Valentino style, all feels grand and regal, and from that moment on, I knew I was in for a treat. Let’s not forget that Pierpaolo Piccioli, the brand’s creative director and naturally the author of the looks, is known for big statements. So big, that they brought Céline Dion to tears at one of his previous shows.
Photographed by Bruno & Nico van Mossevelde
As Piccioli enters the room, wearing jeans, sneakers, and a T-shirt, the ambiance becomes more relaxed. After he lights the first cigarette, the conversation flows. Piccioli starts by explaining that this couture collection is the result of a collaboration with 16 artists, handpicked by him. “More than ever, I’ve been feeling that we need to connect, and I always enjoyed being around other creative people,” he says. “This was my way to start a conversation with a community that shares the same values.” Relying on instinct, Piccioli had a simple approach, selecting artists that he liked and came across organically. The list is eclectic, with names hailing from all over the world, such as Wu Rui, James Nares, Patricia Treib, and Francis Offman. “The only rule was to listen to my feelings, and the goal was not just to do a show packed with artists. It is more like a collective effort, like an orchestra I’m conducting with different instruments, where each one plays in his own way. But when they are together… The result is beautiful music.”
Photographed by Bruno & Nico van Mossevelde
Although the collection is connected with the arts, Piccioli firmly believes that the worlds of art and fashion are apart. “This might sound provocative, but I don’t believe that fashion is art,” he states. This is probably the only point where we disagree, especially after he takes me one floor up, where we sit at the end of a runway where models walk so close to us, we can analyze every single stitch or embroidery in the clothes they are wearing. The dresses feature a virtuoso use of colors – potent plum and berry red next to splashes of forest green and royal blue. Other models appear nonchalant, in sparkling mini culottes, bustiers, and feather headpieces. It all feels deliciously kaleidoscopic. “Aren’t all these colors hard to combine?” I enquire. “Not if you are good,” Piccioli laughs. “If not… That’s a problem!”
Photographed by Bruno & Nico van Mossevelde
One of the novelties on the Valentino couture runway is the inclusion of male models. Piccioli explains that this is nothing but a sign that times are changing, and that the fashion world has the responsibility to lead these changes. “As a designer, you need to have a loud voice, even if your medium is only the images you produce, which can be so powerful,” he shares. “After the pandemic, our world lost boundaries and changed, and there are no more divisions of gender. Just go to the street and see what kids are wearing: from capes to makeup. Couture is all about this uniqueness, and fashion needs to celebrate these shifts. But we cannot be late; we need to lead with our voice.”
Photographed by Bruno & Nico van Mossevelde
Being ahead of the social and cultural movements is something deeply connected with the work of Piccioli for Valentino. One of his disruptive moments happened during the SS19 couture presentation, when discussions around inclusivity and representation were starting to erupt in the fashion world. Making a bold decision, the designer cast 39 Black models to walk his runway, with Naomi Campbell closing the show with regal strides. Piccioli also stopped using fur, one of the previous staples of the maison. “I don’t think we will miss fur,” he says. “Even the humblest fabric can look rich if you treat it the right way.”
Photographed by Bruno & Nico van Mossevelde
As models continue to walk and turn before us, I inquire why the show is taking place in Venice and not Rome, the city where Valentino was founded in 1960 by Valentino Garavani and Giancarlo Giammetti. It is also the birthplace of Piccioli, who worked at Fendi for 10 years before joining Valentino as an accessories designer, in 1999. He took the creative reins of the house in 2008, alongside Maria Grazia Chiuri, becoming sole creative director of the maison in July 2016, when Chiuri exited for the top creative role at Dior.
Photographed by Bruno & Nico van Mossevelde
“We chose Venice not because of its architecture or grandeur, but because we wanted to be part of this moment of authentic Italian culture during the Venice Biennale. Being there means a lot,” he says. This doesn’t imply that Piccioli loves Rome any less, as the capital is a continuous source of inspiration for him. The city he describes as being full of layers, where a simple stroll down the street can inspire new ideas, and where ancient churches coexist with Fellini and Pasolini-like sets, always reminds him of the importance of pushing his vision to its best. “When you work in Rome, you can’t compete with Caravaggio or Bernini,” he concludes. “So, you do what you can…”
Photographed by Bruno & Nico van Mossevelde
Read Next: Salma Abu Deif Embodies the Punk Spirit of the Valentino Act Collection at Cairo’s Cinema Radio
All clothing ValentinoStyle: Claire CarruthersHair: Flavio Santillo at Making Beauty ManagementMakeup: Arianna Campa at Blend ManagementStyle assistant: Valentina Rossi MoriCasting director: Troy WestwoodDigital tech: Elio RosatoLight tech: Pietro FrizziProduction: Federica Marchetti at Atomo Management, Max Brunetti at ForProduction.itModel: Ayak Veronica at Marilyn Agency

PHP Code Snippets Powered By : XYZScripts.com