Valli At Pitti: Michelangelo, Margherita, and Mirth-------
Talk about a tough room. When Giambattista Valli presented his pre-fall 2009 collection at Pitti Immagine in Florence last night, his clothes competed for attention with Michelangelo. Seriously. The Valli catwalk ran through the Palazzo Vecchio’s storied Salone dei Cinquecento, where Michelangelo’s sculpture The Genius of Victory is housed and where Giorgio Vasari’s frescoes trumpet Florentine victories of old from wall and ceiling. Would Valli’s show likewise be a triumph? The local aristocracy and fashion nobility turned up to find out—Margherita Missoni, Franca Sozzani, Hortense Visconti, and Vogue best-dresser Bianca Brandolini and sister Coco were seated in the front row. (No Lapo sighting, though.) But Valli claimed he wasn’t nervous about making his debut before a hometown crowd, or, for that matter, about contending with Renaissance masters. “Italy is my country,” he said. “And to show at the Salone dei Cinquecento, that is a dream come true. When I came out on the catwalk and saw the magnificence of the crowded room and my work being celebrated there I was the happiest of men.” Later, Valli celebrated that euphoria with a seated dinner for marquee attendees at the Four Seasons. Florence has no shortage of buildings fit to make even the most seasoned of travelers go into a tourist swoon. The Four Seasons is in a converted palace on the outskirts of town, and Valli’s repast was held in a hall nearly as impressive as the Vecchio’s Salone. By this point, however, there was no distracting Valli’s guests: With a first course of seared tuna and quail egg salad arriving on the table at nigh on 11 p.m., all eyes were on the food.