The Valentino Haute Couture Spring 2014 collection was the best I’ve seen in a long time, and not only from this label. I fell in love with it from the moment that dress embroidered with excerpts of La Traviata score appeared on the runway. I wrote an article on Runway Rider in Vogue Spain about the references used by Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli, the creative genius behind Valentino since the master left.
One of the inspirations for the collection was Henri Rousseau, the naïf painter from late 19th century. He’s one of my favourite artists. He was object of disdain during all his life due to his apparently childish style. Fortunately, his unique vision has been appreciated with time until he became one of the examples of Post-Impressionism. His most common subjects were animals from the jungle, depicted in rain-forest scenes, storms that shake the palm trees, monkeys jumping from banana trees… A world he constructed from his imagination, as he never left France in all his life. His inspiration came from the hours he spent at the Jardin des Plantes in Paris, at the zoo, and the stories his friends from the army told about their time in Mexico.
His primitivist style influenced next generations of artists, such as Picasso, who he met at the end of his life when the Cubist genius detected Rousseau’s talent. Some of his other friends were Brancusi, Apollinaire, Robert Delaunay… Apart from his paintings, we’ve gotten to know Rousseau’s work in the covers he illustrated for Le Petit Journal. A job that didn’t pay much, as he even had to play the violin in the streets.