Inspecting The Key Themes Of Valentino’s Spring 2017 Collection
BY Lestari Hairul | May 18, 2017 | Fashion
For six months last year, The Met Breuer presented an exhibition called Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible. The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s outpost on Madison Avenue in New York displayed over 190 works spanning the centuries, from the Renaissance period to the present. Unfinished focused on two categories: art that is unfinished—interrupted by the death of the artist, for instance—or works that are in the initial stages of finality; and non finito, that is art that is deliberately left unfinished.
The creative duo behind Valentino, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli, were inspired by Unfinished, the concept that works in unfinished states allow the viewer to see the creative process of the artist.
The Met with Unfinished sought to have that conversation between the viewer and the artist, a peek into the work behind the work. Applied to fashion, perhaps seeing the skeletons for what they are will get us to return to the beauty of the craft, not just what’s merely new or hip. Or one could buy into the thought that diving into this latest and newest, is just another act for the collective.
Here’s Valentino’s Spring 2017 collection with elements of non finito, and a few other themes threading through.
The clearest expression of non finito is the unfinished hems. Trailing threads, fraying at the edges of trousers and shirts otherwise beautifully tailored, provide an insight into the making of things—that these are pieces expertly cut and sewn, put together but intentionally without an ending. They are tiny details, not an anarchic deconstruction, but a quality of imperfection that draws your eye to the overall perfection of the garment.
Russian supermodel Veruschka was famously photographed wearing a panther print Valentino dress in 1967. And drawing inspiration from this picture, panthers feature prominently in this collection. With a touch of non finito, of course, here and there. On field jackets, for tactile and visual contrast, the panther appliqué is tufted at the edges, or snarling across the chest or on shoulders, but always in pieces and not whole.
On jackets, bags, coats, ribbed knits, and even combined with panthers, the camouflage print appears. The chosen colours are classic, the kind you would more commonly associate with the word “camouflage”, no rabid jarring colours. Just camouflage on a variety of material and cuts.
Perhaps it all comes down to this: there is a sense of uniformity to the whole collection that goes beyond mere thematic coherence. The colours, the camouflage, even the symbols of snarling panthers and eagles with stars nodding to the patches on American flak jackets speak of the military uniform. Is this a symptom of our times, where the drums of war rumble in the distance thanks to US foreign policy? If it is, there is that tiny gasp of defiance, the unpicking of hems and raw edges. The uniformity disrupted by a little bit of chaos, and with the option of monogramming, the call for individualism in a collective.
This article was first published in the print edition of Esquire Singapore, May 2017.