>> Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli, whose first collection for Valentino debuted yesterday seem to have the approval of the house's namesake. Valentino Garavani, who sat front row with partner Giancarlo Giammetti, leapt to his feet as soon as the show was over, applauding:
"They did a very good job. It is a collection that is perfect for this very moment. It was quite emotional to see all my clothes, done by these people who loved me for 12 years, and they are really sensational. They were always staying with me during my fittings of haute couture.”
But other members of the audience weren't so convinced about the collection, which "could have been sourced right out of the house pattern archive," in the words of WWD.
"For the most part they were just . . . imitations" »
Godfrey Deeny of Fashion Wire Daily thought the collection "an almost verbatim restatement of the founder’s style" — "the show ended up feeling like an extended thrift shop discovery of the designer’s favorites." And Cathy Horyn cited the dangers of presenting such a "dead" collection, "designed to please Valentino":
"Something happens when a designer retires: the audience expects to see a new beginning. I can’t think of one label that has survived by repeating itself. Look at what Tom Ford did at Gucci, Lagerfeld at Chanel, Galliano at Dior — they all set off a little bomb and started over with the bits that interested them. Not the whole thing. And a new audience found them."
WWD noted a similar sentiment: "To all who do or might purchase a storied fashion house: One designer cannot re-create the work of another, especially a really beloved and famous one whose supersignature work was refined over decades. The annals are filled with such failed attempts."
Chiuri and Piccioli need to find a way to show their own interpretations of what Valentino is — and fast. And they need to be the ones drawing all the backstage attention from the media scrum after their show, not Valentino, as it was yesterday, if they want to be able to carry the brand successfully into the future.