Historic, romantic and quite formal, Paris is the kind of city that seeps into people. It’s certainly seeped into Rome-born Giambattista Valli, whose collections invariably carry a strong French accent and attitude.
Touring the lavish salons at his Paris showroom, where his resort, pre-spring and beach collections are displayed, the designer plucked a silver mule with a bow the color of a rose-flavored macaroon and described it as the kind of thing Marie Antoinette might wear when she steps out of bed — or for that matter, the director Sofia Coppola, who famously made a film about the last Queen of France in lush, Ladurée colors and lots of frou-frou.
Mostly in white, pinks and greens, Valli’s clothes took their cues from French gardens: A-line skirts bearing a green caning pattern, and embroidered vines crawling over bib-front tuxedo shirts, tweed jackets and snug knits.
He called the collection “En Plein Air,” the French word for outdoors. “We’re breathing again — open space, open skies, nature, garden parties, happy times,” he said, referring to the easing of the coronavirus pandemic in Europe. “Everything is about lightness.”
Indeed, the pastel colors, crisp or gossamer fabrics, and the fluid silhouettes telegraphed a fresh and summery brand of feminine, Parisian chic: a poplin shirtdress erupting into lace on one side, or a froth of tulle sprouting on the neckline of a swimsuit, which could also be worn as a top. Interspersed were touches of exotica; a mandarin collar here, a draped, saffron-colored dress there.
“The customer is looking for things you feel beautiful in,” Valli said. “I love to give the freedom to the final customer to interpret the collection how she wants.”
Add Valli to the list of designers upping his shoe game. His resort and pre-spring offer includes flat sandals with bejeweled straps that were displayed in a glass cabinet, like art objects, or more earthy, cork-soled styles sprouting big gold studs.