Photos: Valentino Couture S/S 2017.
When you picture a collection inspired by Greek mythology, you might see elaborate draping or toga-like silhouettes. But for his first solo Valentino couture collection, Pierpaolo Piccioli was thinking more about how Greek myths “were the beginning of naming human feelings,” as he told Vogue.com’s Sarah Mower. So he dreamed up gowns inspired by specific goddesses and their unique traits: Look 45, for instance, was named after Pasithea, who was one of the three graces and personified meditation. The gown’s hand-embroidered pearls and shimmering blush flowers evoked a peaceful garden. Look 47 has its own story, too—here, Piccioli shares the details exclusively with Vogue Runway.
The goddess Piccioli chose for the nude caped gown may sound familiar: Pandora. As in Pandora’s box. In ancient mythology, Pandora was the first woman created by the gods, each of whom gave her a special gift, hence her name, which means “all gifted.” One day, Pandora naively lifted the lid on a box containing all the evils of the world. The myth was used to explain death and destruction; nowadays, it’s also a metaphor that suggests how small actions can have unforeseen consequences.
From afar, the gown is a whisper of chiffon and sparkle; look closer, and you’ll see Pandora herself embroidered among the white flowers and crystals. Hand-stitched in safflower thread, she holds a large jar with yellow and orange beads spilling out; according to the house, five seamstresses created the embroideries with antique looms, a process that took 900 hours.
Historians often draw similarities between Pandora and Eve: Both were considered the world’s first women, and both were responsible for unleashing pain and suffering on the world. We don’t know if Piccioli intended to make a feminist statement by celebrating Pandora, but we’d like to think he had that in mind when he designed an utterly feminine haute couture gown in her image.