Summer flowers are abloom for the approaching autumn season. And Valentino has brought a whole garden along with them. This, however, isn’t a bed of late-summer roses; this is closer to the meadow of small blooms in which Edward kisses Bella in the Twilight series. They’re completely pretty and girly, sweet even, yet they don’t wind you up like too-cute posies do. The thing with pretty—broadly speaking—is that cool is rarely part of the equation. That’s why Valentino’s Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli have been gaining raves. Their flowers have a certain edge. This is from a composition—sum of fabric and design—that is floral, not florid, with a resultant effect that hints at Auguste Renoir, not Georgia O’Keeffe
We’re especially partial to the boots from the pre-fall collection, especially the knee-high ones (they come in ankle boots too). Sure, there is almost no reason to wear them in the unforgiving heat that regularly afflicts us, but determined women will find an occasion (or a city elsewhere) for these clothes-for-limbs. From afar, these boots look like they’re made from printed leather, but up close and in your hands you’ll be surprised and delighted—in equal measure—that they’re fashioned from silk brocade. This is luxury that recalls 17th century shoes worn in the court of the French monarchy. Only now, the Valentino duo has given them a visual language gleaned from the 1960s. This is no doubt due in part to their collaboration with British textile designer Celia Birtwell, known as much for her prints that had come to embody the spirit of London’s Swinging Sixties as her marriage to the designer Ossie Clark.
These silk brocade boots are a more feminine follow-up to the leather ‘Garavani’ combat boots with rosette appliqués that appeared last year in Valentino’s autumn/winter collection. Like those boots, the current ones have rather rounded toe caps, giving them a vaguely militaristic appearance. They are leather-soled and block-heeled, and are zip-fastened for a closer, slim-looking fit. Many Asian women will, no doubt find these appealing, especially if they see incredible allure in knee-high boots, which possibly could stem from the lack of opportunity in wearing them. Boots signify that there are lands of colder clime for you to go to, and you have been there or are about to go there, and with the floral brocade, the place could be an English countryside, a French campagne, or even the Twilight meadow, that fantasy vista Stephenie Meyer set near Forks, Washington. You don’t let pass their sex appeal too. From Juliet Robert’s thigh-high, patent leather, too-glossy-to-be-classy pair in Pretty Woman to Kate Moss’s too-many-to-mention collection, these are as useful an accessory to express barefaced sexuality as stilettos. Either way, the higher you go, the sexier you are. Or so it is believed.
The popularity of boots as women know them is observable rather recently. Boots became a trend in the 60s; they went hand-in-hand with the mini skirt. While boots were worn in the old days, mainly for practical reasons (such as concealing calves in case the skirt hitched up or protecting feet from inclement weather), they didn’t attain any fashionable standing. It became fashion footwear at the beginning of the 20th Century, when, in 1913, a woman by the name of Denise wore Moroccan leather boots that reached her knee. The boots were made by the bottier Favereau and were an instant sensation among the beau monde of Paris and New York. The designer of her game-changing footwear? Her husband, Paul Poiret. Unlike his hobble skirt, those knee-high boots had a better fate: the style survived the Belle Epoque and continued to inspire until now.
Valentino garden silk-brocade knee-high boot, SGD2,460, and ankle boot, SGD1,870, are available at Valentino, Ion Orchard. Photos: Valentino