For most people, the word “couture” calls to mind actresses in show-stopping gowns and society ladies in prim suits. Few are thinking about a night out at the club; after all, these are garments that can cost tens of thousands—if not hundreds of thousands—of dollars. Hardly worth the risk of a wayward beer spill.
But Valentino’s creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli has never been one to think of couture inside the same box as other designers—which is probably why his spring 2023 haute couture collection for the brand was dubbed “Le Club Couture.” Guests gathered in Paris’s Bridge Club—located under the historic Pont Alexandre III—an underground space that set the mood for what was to come down the runway.
This was disco club culture by way of the ’80s: Models wore barely there Hot Pants featuring giant bows under Miami Vice-worthy jackets, hater-blocking shades with feathers springing from the top, dresses with ruched ruffles, and the most micro-length skirts you can make.
There’s no better time to sparkle than beneath the flashing lights of a dance floor, which is probably why Piccioli packed this collection with plenty of eye-catching embellishment. Some of the sequined pieces—like a blood-red suit or a gold-gloved top—were so fine, they appeared liquid; others, on a pair of shorts or a men’s overcoat, spiked away from the body to create a feathered effect. Even tights received the sequin treatment—which are almost a requirement under some of the shorter pieces in the collection.
Piccioli is best known for his work with color, having an eye for unexpected combinations, and an ability to define a moment with just one shade. (See: the Valentino PP Pink fall 2022 collection that was positively everywhere.) That sensibility was on full display for the spring 2023 couture collection, where he combined baby pink chiffon tops and acid green tights, dusty lilac ruffled dresses with oxblood leather gloves, and Big Bird-yellow oversized blazers with black striped ties—and, naturally, more of the aforementioned PP Pink.
If you don’t think clubs and couture go together, here’s what Piccioli had to say in the show notes: “Their shared values: mutual gestures of extravagance, the notion of clothes as tools of transformation, crafting a true self, a dichotomous yet dual vocabulary of display and revelation, permeance through life.”
In other words: clothes should be a celebration of who you are. Could there be a better raison d’être for couture?