Valentino's creative director always designs great gown, beautiful gowns, but it's never just about the pretty clothing. Building on the narrative that Pierpaolo Piccioli started with his spring 2019 haute couture show when he reimagined high society as inclusive toward Black women, he took it a step further with his latest collection, championing race and age diversity on the couture runway. “The only way to make couture alive today is to embrace different women’s identities and cultures,” Piccioli told Vogue in a studio preview. “It’s about the idea of individualism,” Piccioli continued.
His fall 2019 couture offering was inspired by Avedon portraits, Guy Bourdin advertising shots, canvases by the Italian Renaissance mannerist Rosso Fiorentino, and paintings of Diana Vreeland’s documentary The Eye Has To Travel. And so he did with decadent silhouettes, cheerful colours, floral appliqués, delicious crepe draping, billowing culottes, on models varying in both race and age. Lauren Hutton, Cecilia Chancellor, Georgina Grenville, Hannelore Knuts and Lineisy Montero were among those wearing the collection. “It’s not engineered by computer,” Piccioli tells Vogue of the hand-detailing in the collection, “you can feel the humanity in it.” Montero thanked Piccoli on Instagram, writing "[it] is always a pleasure to be part of this amazing show" under a photograph of the runway.
And in what might have been the most touching move, Piccioli celebrated the individuals who made the collection possible, the atelier staff, inviting them to walk the runway and pause at the end to kiss and say thank you to Valentino, the man who founded the house.
Piccioli is at the forefront of a shift in the couture industry, one that values inclusivity and makes luxury accessible. “My job as a designer is to reflect an idea of the times we live in," Piccioli told T Magazine last August. "This idea of craft, of beautiful tradition, is expressed through the human touch. A couture house means people."