If tree-hugger was once a derogatory term for environmentalists, in the present-day climate it’s surely the best compliment you can pay a person. In Giambattista Valli’s intimate show salons at Les Arts Décoratifs, it felt as if models hadn’t just been embracing nature but immersing themselves in it to the point of splicing. Through his haute couture gestures, Valli garlanded dresses in ruffles and foliaged them in floral embroideries. His loudest silhouette was carried by drop-shoulder puff sleeves that looked like they were sprouting from beneath the shoulder line like burrs on a tree trunk.
Valli called it his “gardening look”. While it materialised lightyears from the normative gardener themes of June’s men’s shows like Fendi and Louis Vuitton, the sentiment was the same: planting, nurturing and the kind of mindfulness only nature can provide. “Extraordinary,” he offered after the show, which used the snippets of the intro theme from Big Little Lies. “Extra-ordinary! One-of-a-kind women, who make choices in such a personal way. Women from the past, women from now: Peggy Guggenheim, Giovanna Battaglia, Gloria Vanderbilt,” Valli reflected, pointing to a mood board that collaged pictures of his muses wearing porcelain-like floral looks with flower-themed interiors from palatial homes. “They live in this apartment and their passion is their garden,” he said. “Beautiful landscapes.”
For Valli, this was home turf, possibly encouraged by the nature-centric mentality that now fills every modern mind in fashion and beyond. Certainly, the many private clients that drive his business – not just in haute couture but here in ready-to-wear, too – are subscribing to that vital philosophy of hand-crafted quality over mass-produced quantity. “It’s a mix between past and present, but the proposition is the same,” Valli said. “To be open, to be curious, be inspired, and inspire the people.”