Paris Fashion Week 2020: Valentino channels powerful simplicity in PFW SS 2020

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Paris Fashion Week 2020: Valentino composed a refined and thoughtful opus for spring that took the storied house in a more focused direction than last season’s chunky butterfly embroideries.

A less-is-more philosophy at Valentino had celebrity guests, including American singer Camila Cabello and model Naomi Campbell, vigorously applauding.

Meanwhile, Thom Browne showcased his spring-summer designs from the most unlikely of places: A snow-covered garden.

Here are some of Sunday’s Paris Fashion Week highlights.

Valentino’s powerful simplicity

“By subtracting colour, shape and volumes come to the fore,” Pierpaolo Piccioli said.

With this mantra, the Italian Valentino designer composed a refined and thoughtful opus for spring that took the storied house in a more focused direction than last season’s chunky butterfly embroideries.

Here, the designs blossomed via their simplicity in white, eye-popping colour and flashes of heavenly gold.

The first looks — all white — gained power by being pared down.

Voluminous white shirt-dresses served as a tabula rasa, a blank canvas, which Piccioli then adorned with delicate gold jewellery, such as a round necklace with a figurative bird pendant.

At times, the shirts’ high collars and starched feel felt ecclesiastical, while their voluminous sleeve almost angelic.

The collection maintained this arresting simplicity throughout, even when bright colour was explored in an electric lime silk gown with a beautiful floor-length trapeze silhouette. It was gently ruched at the collar with a 1970s necktie detail, and was worn by a make-up-less model who resembled a divinity with myriad gold sequins around the eyes.

The house of Valentino, whose Sunday show was staged inside the grounds of Les Invalides, sent out a flurry of messages to guests alerting them to traffic concerns and to arrive extra-early.

The warnings were sent because Les Invalides was also the site of a public ceremony on Sunday afternoon in memoriam of former French President Jacques Chirac who recently died.

The thousands-strong lines of mourners, multiple police cordons and snaking traffic encouraged normally cab-hailing fashion insiders to resort to creative means of transport.

One bicycle-riding editor in a rather impractical layered dress sporting eccentric ankle clasps to stop her look catching in the chain.

Some others simply walked kilometers from the previous show in the drizzle.

But the most popular option seemed to be one of the newest forms of transport taking Paris Fashion Week by storm: Rent-a-scooters. Companies such as Lime have capitalized on the mayhem and offered fashion week guests special offers for their services for the duration of the season.

Thom Browne’s winter garden

A snow-covered garden, frozen white wilting roses and tiny white birds suspended in the air resembling snowflakes.

This season, showman Thom Browne transported guests to an off-season Winter Wonderland to showcase his spring-summer collection.

Though it was lost on guests if the imaginative presentation was a comment about climate change, the inventive styles made a statement of their own.

Onto the base of tight bread-and-butter suits, Browne injected in his trademark style contradictions.

Giant bowling shoes redesigned as dolphins led to truncated shells of crinolines. They cut a surreal silhouette on top of a striped skirt-suit with dolphin motifs, where the skirt was hoisted up to the bust.

The skeletal crinolines were then fleshed out as the show progressed with layers of tweed fabric in a Marie Antoinette — or perhaps Snow Queen — fashion.

Large blond and dark wigs added to the queenly vibe — accessorized with an occasional tulle veil in a nod to bridal couture.

Browne continues to redefine Paris Fashion Week with displays that are as much visual concept as ready-to-wear show.

Schiaparelli’s tropes of displacement

There have been fits and starts since the famed house of Elsa Schiaparelli — the arch-rival of Coco Chanel — was relaunched some six years ago.

Now, with designer Daniel Roseberry in place, having replaced Bertrand Guyon earlier this year, the house associated with couture takes one more trepidatious and well-heeled step into ready-to-wear.

The outcome left guests inside the chic Place Vendome presentation smiling with delight.

This season plunged into the universe of the eccentric house founder, who, the house informed guests, once swallowed flower seeds to try to become a flower as a little girl.

This naivety and playfulness were apparent in all of the 20 looks: From a beautifully-proportioned signature shocking pink geometric pant suit, to a soft jacket with an eye-popping yellow and orange fringe.

The designs were mainly structured and sophisticated with hints of Surrealism. (Elsa was friends with Salvador Dali.)

A thick snaking serpent in gold made for a standout necklace, and the house it had actually scanned human hair, pool tiles, and even brown paper bags and printed them all on silk satin.

Roseberry said he channeled “Surrealist tropes of displacement… the everyday and prosaic meeting the exquisite and rare.”