How to Look at “Look 47 of Valentino’s Spring ’17 Couture”

© Copyright 2017 Sarah Mariotti, Ryerson University.

Look 47 of Valentino’s Spring ’17 Couture. A drapy, light beige dress with embroidered flowers.
Piccioli, Pierpaolo. “Look 47 of Valentino’s Spring ’17 Couture.” Vogue, 26 Jan. 2017, http://www.vogue.com/fashion-shows/spring-2017-couture/valentino/slideshow/collection#47

Valentino’s Greek Goddess inspired gown, titled Look 47 from his spring ’17 Couture line, demonstrates a compelling history. Part of a collection derived from Greek mythology, I single out this specific dress because of not only its beauty, but the metaphoric depth it contains.  This dress was designed based on Pandora – the first human woman the gods created, according to ancient mythology.

Her name means “all gifted” – the gods that created her each gifted her with something special. Pandora’s Box is a familial metaphor to our world today: any action may have consequences. Gifted to the woman was a jar; it was filled with all things evil. Out of curiosity, she opened it releasing death, disease, pain, destruction, etcetera to the world. This is how ancient Greeks believed the world contained evil.

In this Valentino dress designed by Pierpaolo Piccioli, Pandora herself was embroidered into the chiffon. This piece of art, from a distance, is a flowy gown. The toga style is incorporated into the dress with its drapery, and neck to toe coverage. The dress’ excessive fabric and lustrous embellishments makes it whimsical. Embossed with intricate embroidery, the eye only notices beautiful chaos at a first glance.

When focusing in, the unforeseen details reveal to be the figure of Pandora. She is holding the jar spilling evil out to the world. The orange thread pouring out diffuses into a soft golden yellow, swarming around the white and blue embroidered flowers. This is representational of the evil in the world. It gravitates towards the beautiful and pure things. My eyes first see a uniform design spread out all over the dress because I want to see beauty and good.

I see this dress with perspective, as it is real and has a form – it is not a two-dimensional drawing. Because it is a tangible object, the historical context is brought to life. The model wearing the dress has a concerned expression on her face. It is subtle (along with her makeup) and does not distract from the dress. Also, her head is tilted slightly – which imitates the tilting of the jar, spilling bad things out to the world. She also has light features (hair, eyes, and skin) which blend in with the dress. Because the model and fabrics of the dress follow a monotone colour scheme of light neutrals, the Pandora figure, and decals surrounding her, really stand out.

The photograph captures her walking, but in a moment from the past. This frozen image still demonstrates the flowing movement of the dress. It neatly folds and drapes over her shoulders, and around her arms and legs. The structures of many other clothes and dresses do not hold a history lesson within them. I do have a pair of socks with one of Edgar Degas’ ballerina’s woven into them – but this is not a common cultural possession, alike the Valentino dress. It is fascinating how a minimalist looking dress holds so much historical context. The dress is delicately complex.

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Elkins, James. “How To Use Your Eyes.” Academia.edu, Academia 2017. https://www.academia.edu/5544904/How_to_Use_Your_Eyes

Farra, Emily. “The Story Behind Valentino’s Greek Goddess-Inspired Couture Gown.” Vogue.com, Vogue, 27 Jan. 2017, http://www.vogue.com/article/valentino-spring-2017- couture-pierpaolo-piccioli-greek-mythology-pandora-gown

Karas, Michael. Megas, Charilaos. “Pandora.” GreekMythology.com, Michael Karas               http://www.greekmythology.com/Myths/Mortals/Pandora/pandora.html

Piccioli, Pierpaolo. “Look 47 of Valentino’s Spring ’17 Couture.” Vogue, 26 Jan. 2017, http://www.vogue.com/fashion-shows/spring-2017-couture/valentino/slideshow/collection#47

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