There’s no one who opens a fashion show quite like Kristen McMenamy, the 57-year-old supermodel who kicked off Valentino’s spring 2022 couture showing in Paris on Wednesday. From there, creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli did not disappoint. Once McMenamy finished blowing air kisses and posing it up in Saint Laurent-esque black mini dress, she made way for a cast that again saw Piccioli think a bit outside the box, especially in the at times exclusionary and old-fashion realm of couture. According to the show notes, the designer “imagined this Valentino Anatomy of Couture collection not on one single and idealized house model, but on a variety of women with different body frames and ages.” The goal was to “create a canon that reflects the richness and diversity of the contemporary world and promoting an idea of beauty that is not absolute.”
That’s not to say Piccioli turned his back on the supers, nor models who are seasoned and sample-size. Lara Stone made another of her occasional appearances on the catwalk, joining veterans like Mariacarla Boscono, Anna Ewers, and Jon Kortajarena and runway regulars like Fran Summers, Maty Fall, Adut Akech, and Jill Kortleve. The latter, who helped make history when she walked Versace in 2020, was among several “curve” models in the mix. With any luck, up-and-comers like Levie Hsieh, Antoinette Walford, Nyangath Lual, and Apollo Yom will soon be making as many runway appearances as Kortleve has since.
Meanwhile, Marie Sophie Wilson brought some more silvery hair to the runway, and seasoned names like Lynne Koester and Hannelore Knuts got back into the game. With the spring 2022 ready-to-wear season just around the corner, here’s hoping another designer raises the industry’s infamously low bar of inclusivity even further.