Cult Leader or Warrior Queen? (Valentino Couture)

Look 1

Look 1

The Valentino Fall 2015 couture collection, titled “Mirabilia Romae,” translates to Marvels of Rome. It was an accurate description. The models wore gladiator sandals and armor-inspired gowns, looking like Ancient Roman goddesses, and in many cases looking more like Minerva (Athena) than Venus (Aphrodite). In other looks, dignified capes resembled the cardinals of Vatican City.

Look 43: incredible craftsmanship with motifs of Ancient Rome

Look 43: motifs of Ancient Rome

The detailing brought forth subtler visions of Rome. The opening look featured a neckline that appeared to be an eagle unfurling its wings, similar to the motif of the Standard of the SPQR. The models were adorned with heavy gold jewelry, which have been trademark symbols of beauty and wealth throughout Roman history.

The silhouettes were often similar to those of the Fall/Winter’15 collection, such as square necklines and boxy tops. The gladiator sandals connected to the Spring/Summer’15 show, but this time around they were war-like, not bohemian. This collection featured a large degree of asymmetry, which is less of a traditional Valentino touch. Many of the evening gowns featured one exposed shoulder and the other arm hidden beneath a cape-like sleeve: dignified without being matronly. Light, sheer fabrics were present, but many gowns were of satin or velvet. Mixed media with metallic pieces were very prevalent as well, resembling either battle armor or other Roman motifs.

Look 57: Asymmetrical elegance

Look 57: Asymmetrical elegance

The looks were predominantly black or dark-colored, creating a feeling that was very elegant and very dignified, and also a bit dark and mysterious. Lead designer Pierpaolo Piccioli said to Vogue that they wanted to “show the darkness [they] feel in this city.” This contrasts with some of the lighter and dreamier Valentino collections of the past few seasons, such as pre-fall 2015 and spring/summer 2015.

The closing look

The closing look

The final look made quite the impression. It reminded me a bit of Look 36 from the spring’15 couture show (as deep red has always been a Valentino color), but with more dignity, more precision, more mystery. There was something eerie about the three-piece neckline, and the oxblood red color caused the model’s slow walk down the runway to resemble a cult procession. According to Vogue, the dress was inspired by the ancient Roman sacrifice of bulls. Darker than usual.

A few more notable looks:

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All images from WWD by Giovanni Giannoni. Click here for every look!


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