Giambattista Valli Couture Fall 2021

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A camera swooped in on a model from the ground up, taking in the juicy sherbert shades of her chiffon gown and cape, the bows twisted into her squarish bob, and an expression that telegraphed, “Damn, I look gorgeous!”

“It’s very Ryan Murphy, no?” Giambattista Valli said as he surveyed the filming of his fall 2022 haute couture collection from a monitor.

The color-drenched, idyllic quality of that brief scene was indeed reminiscent of the American television guru’s esthetic — think “Hollywood” but set in France and with a much steeper clothing budget.

Giambattista Valli Couture Fall 2021

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“Couture is about fantasy,” Valli said, describing the nonlinear, dreamlike storyline for his film, shot in and around the funky French Communist Party headquarters in Paris, designed by Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer, and interspersed with outdoor scenes from a French garden.

Flashbacks? Hallucinations? Lucid dreaming? They were all part of Valli’s freewheeling, imaginary celebration of legendary nights out in Paris, the springboard for a collection long on grandeur, with a dash of coquettishness and a soupçon of kink.

Odile Gilbert’s bulging hairdos and the Space-Age architecture added a midcentury allure to the dresses with their nipped waists, dense frills and sculptural qualities. They ranged from pert minidresses to full-on ballgowns that practically required their own zip codes.

Valli occasionally reined in his wall-sweeping volumes for more linear, sexier interpretations of his dense tulle frills, while corseted waists and feathered embellishments added a touch of cabaret razzmatazz.

Men’s haute couture looks, new for Valli, helped feed the plot line that anything can happen after dark in Paris, and allowed him to flex his atelier’s tailleur muscles with sleek double-breasted pantsuits and tuxedo shirts with feathery plastrons. Here was an extremely convincing case for the man cape.

The Italian designer has become a stalwart cheerleader for French style, and the haute couture activity. He will mark 10 years of high-fashion collections next January, and this frothy outing was a strong expression of his dramatic brand of fashion.

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