In the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death, Creative Directors Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli explore the idea of theatrum mundi for the Valentino Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2016-17 Collection.

From the Elizabethan playwright they don’t grasp the stories, the plot or the protagonists, but the capacity of penetrating into the human spirit and depicting it with vivid accuracy in all its aspects and implications.

This from BoF’s Tim Blanks:

It’s hardly a ‘breaking news’ moment, given that the fashion tomtoms have been throbbing for a while about Maria Grazia Chiuri’s imminent departure from Valentino for parts foreign. But today’s confirmation that she is moving on, leaving Pierpaolo Piccioli as sole creative director, clearly throws a different light on the couture collection the duo showed last night. As swansongs go, it was a surprisingly ponderous full stop to Chiuri’s 17 years with Valentino, soundtracked by Prokofiev’s stentorian strains.

Piccioli and she have boosted the house’s fortunes with collections of sheer, gossamer fantasias of prettiness, like the dresses worn by their gilded acolytes in the audience. But with their new designs, it felt a little like Lady Macbeth had gatecrashed the fairy circle. Appropriate, given that Shakespeare was a starting point. Chiuri and Piccioli claimed inspiration from the master playwright’s peerless ability to create richly multi-layered characters.

They called their collection “a portrait gallery” and what came down the catwalk was actually just like a room at the National Gallery stepping off the canvas: white Elizabethan ruffs on deep black velvet, page boys in doublet and (lace) hose, huntresses and highwaywomen. It also had a distinctly operatic tinge, which made sense with Chiuri and Piccioli’s recent triumph as designers for Sofia Coppola’s production of La Traviata in Rome.