You may remember the somewhat problematic spring 2016 ready-to-wear show that Valentino staged. Drawing inspiration from Africa, designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli stated that “the message is tolerance. And the beauty that comes out of cross-cultural expression.” Unfortunately, that got lost in translation, as things got kind of screwed up when it all came to fruition; out of about 90 looks, only 10 were featured on black models, while everyone (including all of the nonblack models) got cornrow hairstyles. If you need more clarification as to why this is an issue, Africa is predominantly made up of black people, and cornrows are a traditionally black hairstyle. So if the team at Valentino wanted to represent Africa, they should’ve at least tried to show their collection on people slightly reminiscent of the majority of those in Africa.
After opening and closing the spring 2014 Valentino show, it was only a matter of time before Malaika Firth starred in the brand’s advertisements. Finally, today’s hottest model has her moment to shine outside of a huge group of other models. While this is only the first photo from what’s sure to be an iconic ad campaign, the Craig McDean-shot image shows Firth looking like a goddess (as always) in a regal red lace dress with gold jewelry. Even more exciting is that this seems like the first time in quite a while that Valentino has featured a black model in their ads, and it’s fantastic to see more diversity not just on the runway, but also in print.
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One of the most iconic models of the new millennium, Gemma Ward has been virtually invisible over recent years. Sure, plenty of big names come and go each season, skyrocketing to “it-girl” status before returning to their remote corner of the world to lead more simple lives. But Ward’s rare, alienesque beauty is something that might only come once in a lifetime, which is probably why her disappearance from catwalks and editorials is something so hard to accept.
For those who aren’t familiar with Gemma Ward, the now 25-year-old from Perth, Australia starred in some of the most spectacular shows and campaigns in the fashion business. A muse for Karl Lagerfeld, Jean Paul Gaultier, Valentino, and many more, Ward essentially represented the “baby doll” look that dominated early 2000’s fashion. Just after getting mentioned by Forbes as one of the highest-paid supermodels in 2007, the catwalker faced scrutiny for allegedly gaining too much weight. Soon after in 2008, her then-boyfriend, actor Heath Ledger died, and Ward went into recluse.
Though Gemma Ward has made a few cameos in movies since Ledger’s death, it sadly seems that her modeling days are over. We got pretty excited when she signed with IMG’s Australian agency last year, as her agent implied an astronomical comeback in the near future. But now rumor has it that Ward is six months pregnant, expecting with Sydney-born model David Letts. A huge roadblock to her anticipated return to fashion, Gemma’s pregnancy will definitely perpetuate her already-excruciating absence. Yet it’s still too difficult to move on, and we hope to someday see Gemma Ward back at the top of the modeling world. Until then, check out a few photos of the stunning super in her prime (below).
After a flurry of streetwear, color, and other exciting innovations at some of Milan’s most renowned fashion houses, the Italian city’s week of menswear presentations has come to a close. Now, it’s Paris’ turn, as the spring 2014 menswear show season is set to culminate with even more noteworthy designs from some of the best in the business. One of the first collections to debut in Paris was Valentino, a company that’s been getting an abundance of attention since designers Pierpaolo Piccioli and Maria Grazia Chiuri reinvented the aesthetic of Valentino Garavani himself.
Elegance dictates the Valentino aesthetic, and Piccioli and Chiuri have redefined what the term means this season with a deconstructed, urban appeal. But instead of only pairing their sleek, tailored ensembles with sneakers and sports gear, the team presented a deeper analysis of individual urban elements. Somehow, denim suits were most definitely a thing, though adapted in the perfect washes to prevent looking like a 1990’s disaster. Another typically unappealing concept of camouflage pants manifested itself in a way that spoke more of sophistication than hunting attire; Piccioli and Chiuri joined the club of designers turning florals into camouflage with their variation of the styles. A variety of pieces appeared to be turned inside-out, like jackets with exposed seams and unexpected strips of fabric. Meanwhile, leather accents on shirts resembled duct tape, and details on trousers were reminiscent of safety gear.
There’s almost no semblance of the iconic Valentino brand established by Mr. Garavani decades ago, but Pierpaolo Piccioli and Maria Grazia Chiuri’s new take on an old framework has invented a modern, resourceful Valentino man for spring 2014.