While diversity was notably absent on some Paris couture catwalks, Piccioli took a rather assertive stance on the subject, focusing on a casting which was as varied as the individually tailored creations he sent down the Spanish Steps. It’s a notoriously difficult location, where the impact of the clothes can get lost in the magnitude of the surroundings. But Piccioli knows the place well (“ it’s where we go everyday to get our espressos at the nearby cafés,” he laughed). He also has memories of coming to Piazza di Spagna as a teenager to watch Donna Sotto Le Stelle (Woman Under the Stars) from outside the barriers. It was a glamorous fashion show held on the Spanish Steps from 1986 to 2003, showcasing the collections of the most famous Italian designers of that time, and was broadcast on TV—a democratic way to get people familiar with high fashion.
“I still remember so well the feeling of being at the periphery of such an awe-inspiring event,” he said. That’s why he invited 120 students from Rome’s fashion schools to the show. “I wanted them to sit and watch the show, and not be left outside [in] the crush.”
With the sunset bathing the steps in a golden light and a soulful soundtrack by Labrinth, it was difficult not to succumb to the spellbinding effect. Even if the extraordinary details of Piccioli’s creations were a bit lost from the distance, his colorist talent made them impactful, especially in the finale, with models composing a breathtaking tableau vivant, where Pierpaolo’s painterly sensibility couldn’t be missed.
“Fashion differs from art, in that art just serves itself, while fashion has to deal with the body; that’s why fashion can have a strong say on social issues like acceptance of diversity, or standing for human rights,” said Piccioli. But in its higher expressions, fashion belongs to the realm of healing creativity, and can also be a messenger of joy, poetry, and visual pleasure.
The collection he sent out was spectacular, its supreme sophistication toning down its overtly theatrical effects. For the history books, he indulged in a few reinterpretations of Valentino Garavani’s favorite themes; look 1 was a ultra-short, boule-shaped, slightly padded piumino/cape hybrid blooming with huge Valentino-red 3D taffeta roses, worn over a mini jumpsuit in red sequins; it was inspired by the famous Fiesta dress Garavani made for his first collection. On a similar note, Piccioli offered his own take on Valentino’s black-and-white theme, rooted in an appreciation for Roman mosaics as well as for the Art Deco aesthetic of the Viennese Secession of the 1930s. Look 100 was a long ruffled cape; ethereal and nearly weightless, it was made with “an almost scientific construction,” he explained, with geometric black-and-white patterns surgically cut and assembled from tiny pieces of organza, Chantilly lace, and point d’ésprit.