Daydream: Merging couture and technology to enter new dimensions.

January 15, 2021 / Amber Weir

In a time of mass loss and uncertainty, Italian fashion house Valentino live-streamed their Fall-Winter 2020 ‘Of Grace and Light’ collection signaling hope for the future. Valentino’s creative director Pier Paolo Piccioli worked with digital film director Nick Knight to create an enchanting live stream similar to that of a fairytale. The collection consisted of 15 white gowns with long silhouettes embellished with ruffles, feathers, or tassels.

The venue of the live stream was at Cinecittà, a historic film venue in Rome. The magical feel of the show was derived from combining movement and couture, which synchronized seamlessly. The show channeled imagery associated with the circus, as the models sat on swings elevated in the air. The models were able to glide through the air like angels on these swings, while each layer of their intricately designed gowns gently floated and fluttered. Piccioli’s couture was designed to be extreme, to allow the audience to imagine new realities. Each dress was between 15-20 feet long with a few gowns taking 4,000 hours to be made. The exaggerated length of the couture mixed with the varying film shots of the gowns allowed viewers to appreciate the height, layers, and different embellishments of the gowns.

Piccioli and Knight merged couture and technology to create an ethereal experience. In the first part of the show, the white gowns had natural images projected across them. These visuals evoked the four elements – earth, air, fire, and water, giving the impression that the models were in harmony and assimilating with the natural world. The pandemic has brought a reset with many people finding peace through appreciating the beauty of life and the natural world. Piccioli describes how “The four elements take over the shapes, as prints, motifs, and embroideries that are there but are not actually there, made of light and immaterial matter.” By combining couture with technology, Piccioli and Knight were able to enhance the white gowns without any physical alterations to the gowns. FKA Twig’s emotional songs “thousand eyes”' and “mary magdalene” played in the background of the performance adding to the emotional intensity of the piece. The immersive filming would occasionally glitch when the music reached a crescendo. The combined synchronicity of the intense visuals and audio served to momentarily distort reality. The disruption of the natural flow of the performance reflects the precarious nature of time which does not unfold in a linear form. Couture and technology are the future of the fashion industry and allows designers to enter new realms of creativity – once deemed impossible.

Arguably, the first part of the show represents regeneration and renewal. By connecting with nature, the models seem to undergo a spiritual transformation. The second part of the show focused on stillness as if the models moved forward from the chaos of the past and were able to find a sense of inner peace. Piccioli creates a fantasy that enthralls the audience with the beauty and simplicity of the white dresses.  Piccioli describes how “The tangible is morphed by the intangible. A dream solidifies to turn immediately back into a dream: a possible one made real by the digital in dialogue with the human. Couture as an invite to dream with open eyes.” The show was a daydream exploring imagery that is usually only possible in a dream because it is so far removed from reality. Through the exaggerated silhouettes, Piccioli invites us to see past conventional thinking and beyond the human form. Envisioning the formless is powerful and reflects how humans are more than physical bodies: within all of us lies energy and life we can only feel.
Now more than ever, it is essential to recognize that our lives are not isolated from other humans surrounding us and the natural world; we are all bound together by forces much bigger than us. “Across history, moments of reset, or restart, invariably put human values at the center. Humanism is the seed of rebirth,” Piccioli says. The growing materialism in the world has left some of us disconnected from our inner-spirit and the community surrounding us. The pandemic has highlighted the importance of coming together and sharing resources. In these times of uncertainty, we realize the importance of love, rather than endless consumption of material goods that only provide short-term happiness. Through working collectivity to those around us and connecting to the nature surrounding us, we can regenerate our souls.■

This article was written as a part of Spark Writing’s first annual summer workshop series, Words With Friends: A Spark Writer’s Summer!

Graphic By:
Juleanna Culilap
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