Rarely does the demure Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week see a standing ovation.
Even rarer is the whooping and screaming that echoed around the gilded salons of the Hotel Salomon de Rothschild as Pierpaolo Piccioli took his bow following Valentino’s collection show on Wednesday evening.
Singer-songwriter Mika, Valentino Garavani, the retired fashion designer and founder of the Valentino brand, Russian supermodel Natalia Vodianova and American actress and model Tracee Ellis Ross all got to their feet as the rousing operatic voice of Maria Callas played out the sumptuous creations from the week’s strongest collection.
With the stirring aria of Casta Diva, the couture seemed to take as its starting point the glory days of the height of legend Callas’ career in the 1960s.
Giant brushed-back wig hair and an unstructured celadon blue silk gown with intricate intarsia cape opened the 63-look show in that era’s exaggerated style. It took 1,120 hours to make.
Large round multicoloured floral headpieces continued the retro feel.
Loose, exaggerated plays on proportion then followed.
Gargantuan scarf-wraps surrounded the body – and one, in vermilion, came attached across the bust.
Bows at the collar in mikado, one in fluorescent yellow, were so big they finished at the hip.
Despite the size, the looks were never too theatrical as Piccioli kept the proportions balanced from top to bottom, and in keeping with the size of the models.
One floor-sweeping triangular feather dress could have been overpowering, but was modelled on 5ft 10 inch (177 centimetre) tall model Kaia Gerber, Cindy Crawford’s daughter, with huge va-va-voom hair.
It was archetypal dramatic couture.