Being in Paris right now is like a never-ending rush of blood to the head. After a year-and-a-half of a very different reality, the spirit of re-emergence in the city is both elating and overwhelming. Often, the effect is intoxicating: You feel happy but not entirely in control of the situation. “It’s le goût du louche,” Giambattista Valli said during a preview in his Rue la Boétie couture salons: ‘a taste for danger,’ you might say.
In the background, Mozart’s ominous “Lacrimosa” was playing quietly on the soundtrack from his season film, perfectly scoring the scene he had set for his collection. “In Paris, there’s an energy that’s so beautiful, so youthful, so fresh. Everybody is out. There is this kind of generosity of happiness and sharing, and being all together, and getting this lightness back again,” Valli reflected. To me, going out now is the idea of really living in the moment.
The past is very heavy and the future is very uncertain, so it’s about being open and free. You make no expectations. You just get ready. And you have this slight sense of danger—in a positive way—because you’re going out facing the unknown. It’s very open.
He portrayed the re-emergent atmosphere in a collection underpinned by the allure of unpredictability. Frothy tulle cloud dresses, nonchalantly draped chiffon gowns, and frivolously plumed sequined column dresses threw their pastel lightness around the showroom like there wasn’t a care in the world. Across from them, another mood was lurking in the shadows : an obscured ballroom dress swathed in black tulle, a severely tailored shantung trouser suit dramatically covered in a black silk crêpe cape, and a clerical men’s ensemble composed of a black linen caftan with a matching cape. It wouldn’t have looked out of place at the party in Eyes Wide Shut.
Valli attributed the latter to “a Ryan Murphy atmosphere.” He wasn’t talking about Halston, although he was impressed with the actress who played Elsa Peretti, but rather American Horror Story, and the surreal, cultish, sinister mood that sets its tone. On the other side of the Netflix spectrum—although not a Murphy production—is, of course, Emily in Paris, which would be a crime not to ask Valli about. “It was the most refreshing thing about being in lockdown in Paris,” he declared, forgiving its many Parisian clichés.
In many ways, the mood that inspired Valli’s collection is embodied by the joie de vivre of that series : that dewy-eyed appreciation for Paris and life, and the sense of YOLO that comes with the territory. “Why do people come to Paris ?”
They dream of “la ville lumières”. Paris is the only town that’s glamorous when it’s raining. All the lights reflect in the water, as Valli so poetically put it. Being back in his crisply lit couture rooms, surrounded by tulle follies and Baudelairean vampire capes, you kind of felt like “Emily in Paris” yourself. Or, even better : the original Emily, she of Runway Magazine, whose dreams of the Paris couture shows could easily have fit inside Valli’s salons of plenty.