Vernissage: Valentino merges Art & Fashion


Built in 1568 as giant shipyards, the Gaggiandre was a production center in the pre-industrial era as well as the construction site for the Serenissima fleet before being transformed into the exhibition site for the inaugural International Architecture Exhibition in 1980.

Now, inside the Gaggiandre, its built-in docks provided the ideal setting with that idea of industrialism for a couture collection that paid homage to the artisans at the Roman atelier, the builder of Valentino haute couture.

The first model stepped onto the white walkway in a short cocoon red satin cape-dress and a large, plumed hat with red feathers flying in the air behind her, opening a stellar Valentino Haute Couture live stream show from Venice. This show elevated haute couture to a new level regarding clothes, gestures, and aesthetic language.

At one end of the dock, the English artist Cosima provided the live soundtrack to accompany the models as they strode on the white painted wooden platform plank in an otherwise undecorated Gaggiandre. 

Pierpaolo Piccioli has a clear mission in his work at the Valentino fashion house: to put haute couture back on the pedestal in the center sphere of fashion for this Roman heritage brand founded on the codes of couture in the early 1960s. 

Piccioli involved a new generation of young artists, mainly painters from around the globe, bringing them to Rome to interact with the artisans at the couture atelier. The designer hoped, that by bringing together these artists and craft people from different realms of art and fashion, to start a conversation to work together, merging the painters’ ideas and the craft into a three-dimensional haute couture dress. The hands of the artists and the hands of the atelier performed the artistic tasks together. 


The French-born Anastasia Bay transferred her bold color abstract figurative work onto a white asymmetrical cut long dress with deep purple, red, blue, pink, and emerald green abstract shapes. The English Jamie Nares deployed her single brush strokes from her paintings like one of her blue brush paintings, ‘It’s Raining in Naples’ onto a collarless A-line white coat and a long dress decorated with giant red brush strokes along the length of the cape and dress. The German artist Malte Zenses concocted graphic lines into abstract dots and lines on a cashmere, belted ecru short jacket, and matching skirt. 

The vibrant colors – the bright pink of a shredded fabric corset top, the light and dark Fuschia pink of a single breast coat and long dress, the shiny violet of a turtleneck overhead cape dress, the light emerald of a long asymmetrical dress, or the marigold of a fitted sleeveless short sheath dress – reminisced that magisterial haute couture spring 2019 show in late January 2019 in Paris or even the especially with the voluminous ball strapless corset gowns in red pleated silk or the Van Gogh yellow taffeta gown with fly away puff sleeves emerging at the end of the show. 

As the models posed at the end of the dock platform and the camera mounted on the drone flew higher, giving a panoramic view of the models forming a standstill tableau, there is something majestic to the vibrant and brilliant bursts of colors and shapes viewed from above. There is also something magisterial to this momentary living painting, something that in fashion perhaps only haute couture can achieve, especially haute couture at Valentino.