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‘Wider idea of beauty’: Valentino embraces gray-haired and average-sized models

<i>Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images</i><br/>Model Angeer Amol in one of Valentino's latest haute couture creations.
Getty Images
Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images
Model Angeer Amol in one of Valentino's latest haute couture creations.

Oscar Holland, CNN

From the moment 57-year-old supermodel Kristen McMenamy opened Valentino’s latest show in Paris, it was clear the fashion house was breaking with convention.

With Haute Couture Week collections normally worn by young, waif-like models, the Italian label’s creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli offered two things rarely seen on the most exclusive of runways: gray hair and refreshingly average body sizes.

The intimate Spring-Summer 2022 presentation, titled “Anatomy of Couture,” saw Valentino unveil more than 60 looks at its salons in the French capital’s Place Vendôme on Wednesday. Though older and plus-size models do make very occasional appearances in haute couture — the rarefied world of “high dressing” that sees elaborate garments made entirely by hand — Piccioli’s casting was notable for its broad diversity of ages, races and body types.

His lineup included fuller-figured models like Angeer Amol and Devyn Garcia, as well as several others in their 40s and 50s, including Marie Sophie Wilson. Black and Asian models, from up-and-comers to industry stalwarts like Adut Akech, also featured prominently.

In its show notes, the brand said it was “rethinking the rituals and processes of couture” and “promoting an idea of beauty that is not absolute.” Piccioli did not design the collection with a singular body type in mind, the fashion house wrote, but rather “on a variety of women with different body frames and ages.”

Walking up a spiral staircase to an uplifting soundtrack by musician Anohni, models showed creations including taffeta gowns, structured overcoats and dramatic capes. Piccioli’s body-positive approach won praise from industry figures and social media users, with many pointing to how the designs complemented each model’s proportions.

“This collection interrogates the body, this collection challenges the canon,” Piccioli wrote on Instagram following the show. “It does so, after a long reflection, and it does so in order to represent a wider idea of beauty.”

“A very relatable and inclusive haute couture!!!” read one user’s response to the post, while another added, “Thank you for representing all of us. Finally someone with the guts to go all in. May it continue this way.”

See the full collection in the video below.

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