Thursday, January 28, 2010

Valentino: Lite-Brite, Bodies and Wannabe Bunny Ears

Isn't blogging great? Here I have the perfect forum to broadcast my unsolicited opinions and observations on topics I have little to no verifiable technical knowledge of... but, if fashion really is an art form (and I believe it is), I have the right to my own interpretation. So here I come to claim it, once again.

I chose Valentino this time because I loved the Fall 2009 collection enough to blog about it after watching The Last Emperor. My thoughts on this collection are not as profoundly positive, but the more I examine it the more it grows on me.

Exhibit B: Valentino, spring/summer 2010:

NEON. My initial reaction to the chartreuse intruder on these otherwise neutral ensembles was ick-no-gross, but because my pre-conceived neon notions were already less than favorable, I've decided to put my pride aside and re-examine from a more subjective viewpoint. I don't hate it... the balance of skin-tone and day-glo (if you have to use it) isn't alarmingly eye-assaulting, and could even be considered tasteful (if you're into that kind of thing). I'm just kind of not. Free-association time: this does remind me of Lite-Brite, which I enjoyed immensely as a child... does anyone else remember that thing?

BODY: Okay, so you know the BODIES exhibit that has been snaking its skinless way through science museums far and wide for a while now? That's immediately what came to mind when these blatantly corporeal dresses appeared before me: # 1: big hunk of bloody muscle; # 2: the fragile flaps of skin that were peeled off to reveal #1; #3: well, obviously, look at all of those veins and capillaries! Do I have to spell it out? This runway segment looks like it was modeled after that very squirm-inducing BODIES exhibit (which I kiiiind of wanted to see because of the fascination factor alone but then kiiiind of psyched myself out of seeing because it's just ... TMI). Well, now I feel as if I've seen it. Thank you, Valentino. Also, that last dress shot my tangential brain waves into the Realm-Of-The-Weird-Obscure-Movies-I-Had-To-Watch-In-Film-Class, where I was once made very uncomfortable by a far-too-avant-garde-even-for-me autobiographical Bob Fosse film, All That Jazz, which involved a strikingly similar veined (literal) bodysuit. I'm going to reserve any real judgment for now because I actually think the delicate construction of these dresses is kind of cool, but I can't overlook the fact that these lovely ladies are walking around with their insides-out.

PRETTY: The team pleased me most when they strayed from unnecessary neon and body-building to, well, other things. I kind of like the (above, L-R) wrapped oriental look, which feels a little less Avatar-Alien-Mummy than some of the other get-ups but is also kind of been-done; the pretty pale blue tribal could-be-the-martian-equivalent-of-leopard-print look, which I think actually kind of works with the glow-stick wedges and pretty-in-pink hair; and I actually really like the floaty purple-popcorn-flower dress, which unfortunately seems like it was thrown into the spring collection just for good measure because--drip drip drop little April showers--spring means flowers. But it is pretty and I'd wear it. So I guess that's good enough for me.

FIERCE: I don't think I've ever used the word "fierce" in a fashion context, but everybody else does so it must be okay. The only reason I really wanted to use the word "fierce" is that the second dress here looks like a Tiger. Which I like. I also like the rusty transparency of the first look, with the long patterned tunic that kind of resembles a bird post-plucking (I do like the leftover feathers) and the psychedelic legging-pants (again, I can almost get behind the shoes in this case) and the pretty flowing neutrality of the gown (far right) narrowly escapes inclusion in the sloughs-of-skin category because a) it's lovely and b) if you look closely you can tell that it is actually completely covered in fragile little flowers.

And finally--the headdresses. Odd plasticky twisted ribbons spiraling upward and outward in a vaguely familiar way:

It was weird enough when Louis Vuitton did it. The Valentino version looks like the sort of headgear one of the Jetsons might wear to play a Donnie Darko virtual-reality game.

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