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A picture of the de la Falaises — mother Maxime, daughter Loulou and her brother Alexis — was tacked to the wall backstage at Giambattista Valli’s SS16 show. The first family of Left Bank-bohemianism, this portrait of sloe-eyed, mist-tinged exoticism all dressed up in jacquard shirts, wide ties, wild hair and chiffon ruffles, had inspired Valli’s collection. The de la Falaises had “the sparkle of eccentricity in the DNA” that he was looking for. “I didn’t want the looks to be bourgeois,” he told me. “I’m so bored of the bourgeoisie.”
No Jeremy Corbyn-style political manifesto this, rather a show-note to a collection rich in woven embroideries, pattern jacquards and pretty floral Arts and Crafts-era brocades. “I wanted everything to have a three-dimensional texture and an intensity,” explained Valli of his casual use of clashing materials in a multi-panelled miniskirt.
Short silhouettes and breezy chiffon blouses were paired with stiff fabrics and William Morris-style prints: oftentimes the pockets were silver-studded with rivets and the looks tied up with gauzy white scarves wrapped snug at the neck à la Loulou circa the Cannes cabaret club Le 7. The materials had an interiors feel that recalled antique tiles, wallpaper prints and upholstery fabrics, like remnants repurposed from an English manor house. Some looks were intellectual — shirt dresses with neat bib-fronts and buttons; tunic tops worn with cropped trousers — others were more brazen. Almost everything was very, very short.
A backstage instruction included a quote from Frida Kahlo, intended to inspire the attitude that “you deserve a love that wants you disheveled, with everything and all the reasons that wake you up in haste . . . A love that feels your embraces are perfect for your skin.” No, I’m not sure I do either, but the resulting looks took in lots of personalities, from louche to ladylike, and all were worn with glitter-soled sandals that buckled up the legs.
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