'Did You See...?' is our series of uncensored conversations following the shows. For Valentino Spring '18 Couture, fashion journalist Anabel Maldonado and fashion stylist Nicholas Hilton's conversation led to attempting to answer the biggest question around couture - what is its place in the current fashion landscape?
AM: What did you think of Valentino?
NH: Hello! I’m honestly at a loss for words.. I thought this was one of Pier Paolo’s most sophisticated and refined collections for Valentino to date. There was so much joy and sincerity here. We are in this place where there’s so much stuff. So much fashion. And I’m sure I can speak for most of when I say that I find myself mindlessly flipping through collections. Everything can feel so banal and bland. Homogenized, in a way. But this collection genuinely made me smile. I didn’t want it to end. Did you like it?
AM: Absolutely, and I think it's definitely the most playful we've seen from him. The exaggerated ruffles and bows were very joyful indeed. The colour palette was so interesting, and childish in the best possible way. The entire first half made me feel like I was being transported to some kind of universe of expensive old-world dolls. The second half was more grown-up, and those last 10 gowns or so were astonishing. He has so much imagination! The only thing I didn't like were the floral prints, but that's just my bias - not a prints person.
NH: I would have to agree with you there, my friend. I myself shy away from floral prints. They’re just so.... done.
I’m curious, how relevant is a collection like this today? Do you think this was a necessary antidote to the political climate of the world and the fashion industry as a whole?
AM: As an old soul I struggle to answer questions like this. It’s always relevant to me as I perpetually yearn for a golden age of sorts. I want this kind of romance and artistry. Hence why I am always arguing for the value of aspiration. If people aren’t convinced we need this antidote, I hope this collection proved otherwise. Do you think it was?
NH: I think it was very necessary. Fashion needs to make us dream. As you said, it needs to be aspirational. This made me dream. In the current fashion landscape, however, I can’t help but question how relevant this felt. It did feel slightly dated in comparison to where current fashion is at. But for me that was mostly because of the styling. Stripped away we are left with some killer gowns that will surely be worn on red carpets come this spring. And more so, I appreciate the effort. He went there. He went for that. And we have to respect that!
AM: Absolutely. He knows people like us exist. He does it for the romantics.
NH: Yes! Totally.
AM: And of course this just begs the question of haute couture's place in the current fashion landscape, not just Valentino's...
NH: That's a big one! I often feel very conflicted on this topic.
AM: It's like any tradition though - if you don't make an effort to keep it, it's lost.
NH: Sometimes I just can’t justify it. Especially when a design is very clean or minimal. The price people pay for these clothes. With all the poverty and sickness in our countries.. it just feels ostentatious and vulgar sometimes, you know?
AM: You hit a point too - when a design is too clean and minimal - it doesn't feel like couture. There's none of the aforementioned joy, so there's no emotional response to provide the level of value to justify the price tag. Seeing some of Pierpaolo's designs though, you think, "wow, that's special". And then, it's not vulgar.
NH: But then the gowns with beads and feathers and sequins, that seem worth their price, are even more show-offy and vulgar. It’s a strange thing. But I agree. When it feels special, it's right. This felt like such a moment. This was truly special. One for the books.