Fashion
  • Text Alex James Taylor
  • 5th March 2017

Memphis beat

“Time is elastic matter. The past is full of possibilities, as in the future… The manner in which it connects and unites what at a first glance cannot connect or unite makes it productive, discovering personal perspectives.” No, that’s not a Mr Miyagi quote, it’s the opening line from Valentino’s FW17 show notes.

Connecting seemingly disparate eras and cultural epochs is something designer Pierpaolo Piccioli is extremely well-versed in. Think back to last season’s “punk meets Hieronymus Bosch” mash-up – Piccioli’s first collection as the sole designer after his design partner Maria Grazia Chiuri left for Dior – as a perfect example of this ability to solidify diverse inspirations.

This time around, the designer’s escapist co-ordinates were set “between Victorian and Memphis.” That’s not Memphis, TN, Piccioli was referring too, it’s the radical post-modernist design movement that emerged out of Italy in the 1980s. Categorised by vividly colours, gaudy ornaments and ‘thinking outside the box’ mantra (it’s no wonder David Bowie was an avid collector), the movement encouraged designers of everyday objects to break away from clean-cut mainstream European design and challenge perceptions of ‘good design’.

Not the first time the movement was cited as a fashion influencer – think back to that dramatic 2011 Fall Dior Couture show – here the Memphis beat rattled to vivid colours, clashing prints, playful shapes and cheeky, cartoonish hands (original prints by Nathalie Du Pasquier) that crawled up bohemian dresses. As for the Victoriana influence, that came by way of ruffles, pleats, high necklines and a majestic romanticism that swept across the collection in parallel to the flowing flocks.

Amongst the swirls of colour appeared several goth-tastic all black looks that Beetlejuice’s Lydia Deetz would’ve swooned at (although we doubt she does swooning); black beaded dresses, long tailored coats and no-nonsense Dr Martens-esque boots. The finale saw three floor-length dresses stun in Valentino red: Valentino Garavani designed his first in 1959, and almost 60 years later the hue has lost none of its aplomb. With Nicholas Britell’s Oscar-nominated Moonlight score soundtracking the show, there were no mix-ups here – Valentino rightly took home all the acclaim.