Giambattista Valli Couture Fall 2020
Joan Smalls models the collection in a 12-minute video.
Giambattista Valli’s 2020 haute couture collection was in deep contrast with the dour clime of a global pandemic. It was frothy, and romantic, tulled, feathered, and ruched, a masterfully controlled take on excess offering some frisson in the plight of lockdowns.
Presented in 12 minutes of video, Joan Smalls takes sinuous shapes at center screen as interludes of a Parisian winter (captured on Valli’s iPhone) remind us of the time elapsed since the world took to confinement. “With or without us, nature was going on,” Valli told Vogue’s Nicole Phelps. “In the horror of what we’re passing through, there was beauty blooming at the same time.”
That beauty emerges from captivity as 18 looks in outsized dimensions – columns of faille, skirted layers of chiffon, taffeta bows anchoring billows and billows of fallen fabric – sharing with us all the indulgent respite of couture. Point d’esprit veils, waistlines puckered in silk, and minidresses, sequined or swathed in cloque, falling well-before the knee (Saint-Laurent-before-the-knee), make way for indulgently regal ballgowns, some feathered from top to toe, some curtained by chiffon wings, yet all very much in the Giamba fold.
As designers face new headwinds in the wake of the coronavirus, restrictions on physical gatherings allow the rare opportunity to translate the fantasies of couture for a global, albeit digital, audience. “It’s something that exists a little bit like Champagne,” Valli said to WWD. “It comes from here, and that’s that. You can call the rest what you like, but it’s not haute couture.”