The scene captured at Brasserie Lip by Henri Cartier-Bresson in 1968 says a lot about French women, according to Giambattista Valli, who had a copy of the photograph pinned backstage.
It depicts a mature woman in a suit and cap reading Le Figaro and looking with visible disdain at the young woman sitting far away, her long hair hanging over her face and her newspaper barely covering her bare feet with her short. Pulling out from below, white minidress.
“In France, women have a feminist attitude in a very modern way,” explained Valli. “They’re so complex, they assert themselves, and they don’t care about any criticism. They just want to be themselves. What I really love about French women is because I learn from them.”
Valli opened her fall show with a wringer for that white minidress, citing a sleek and confident collection that often dates from the late 1960s, from sleek, princess-line coats to reds The rich shade used to range from a more Space Age minidress with mirrored surfaces. Nicolas de Felice, creative director of Courrèges, who, like Giambattista Valli as a shareholder in Artémis, was on the front lines and watched with approval.
Valli also took the plunge in the early 1970s, parading bell-bottom pants under a flared, ocelot-print trench, and long, sparkly afghan coat with a thick yarn fringe, which you’ll love back in those groovy times. Could fantasize over Marissa Berenson.
The model’s drenched hair, shiny face and rainbow eye makeup added a futuristic glow to the show, which was staged in a rotating gallery at the Museum of Modern Art in Paris.
Valli excels at polished daywear, and she also did something close to a biker jacket, though she added plush alpaca and patches of animal-print brocade. For the finale, he let loose with some of his famous tulle confections, one resembling a topiary from the gardens of Versailles but in the most beautiful way imaginable.