The references were spelled out on a board backstage: Ingmar Bergman's Cries and Whispers, the surrealist artist Meret Oppenheim, and "Little Red Riding Hood." You couldn't blame the busy Valli for needing to be reminded. His first collection for the outerwear company Moncler was scheduled to debut less than 24 hours after his signature show, and then there was also his just-launched fur line with Ciwifurs.
"It's the classic story of a bloodless woman that ends in the passion," Valli said, elaborating on his theme. That would explain the show's color palette, which slowly shifted from ivory to shocking pink to blood red, with a couple of prints along the way. The silhouette was a long exposé on volume, opening with a hobble skirt below one of his new fur shrugs, moving through the sway-back cocoon dresses that have become his signature, and finally exploding in a finale of ball gowns with fitted, strapless bodices atop enormous ballooning skirts. Embellishments ranged from pretty ruffles and fabric worked into rosettes to grandiloquent puckered-crepe necklines and lumps and bumps à la Rei Kawakubo.
Even the Mary-Kate Olsens of the world (she sat front-row today) don't make enough red-carpet appearances for all of the statement-making clothes Valli showed. Mundanities like sweaters, pants, trenchcoats, and other building blocks of a Fall wardrobe are certainly part of his oeuvre, but he neglected to put them on the runway. So while the story he told was engaging, if only for its sheer audacity, it wasn't the full picture. He's capable of doing more with less.