When Maria Grazia Chiuri left Valentino
in 2016 – to join Christian Dior as its creative director – there was one question burning on everyone's lips: would Pierpaolo Piccioli continue with the design duo's romantic aesthetic. It quickly became apparent that even with Piccioli standing alone at the helm, Valentino continues to bring romantic, colourful and feminine dresses that speak to the imagination. For autumn/winter 2017, Piccioli drew inspiration from the Victorian period and combined this with elements from a famous Italian design and architecture group from 1981, the Memphis Group. The Victorian fashion elements were easily spotted on the runway: high-necked dresses, tight-fitting sleeves and small, round, covered buttons matched easily with Valentino's world of fantasy dresses that are ready for red carpet events, romantic strolls in the parc and candlelight dinners. The surprise element of the season were the Memphis Group references. For those who weren't alive yet during the Eighties or were too young to be influenced by current trends, these references might not stand out during a first examination of the collection. This isn't because Piccioli failed at reinterpreting these flamboyant and often futuristic prints, in fact, he did it too well. The Eighties prints that were once mocked when spotted in photographs have received a new fresh and young feel thanks to Piccioli's expert translation into 2017. Scattered over sweaters, dresses and maxi skirts these exaggerated, busy patterns are just what your AW17 wardrobe needs. While the 'Sesame Street' colours and 'Saved by the Bell' throwbacks might not be appreciated by everyone, the specific personal preference to the style underlines once again how skilfully Valentino looked at the Memphis Group. The short-lived Memphis Group wasn't founded to please the masses, it was meant to break free from the existing mould and lack of personality and this skirt, well it does all of that.