Giambattista Valli’s circle of cross-generational muses has always been pretty star-studded and includes young European royals like Charlotte Casiraghi. Today his portrait of a lady was inspired by a style maven of a bygone era, Josephine de Beauharnais, who was famously married to Napoleon Bonaparte for only five years. Thanks to Ridley Scott’s much anticipated biopic of the infamous 19th century emperor and empress due out later this year, their somewhat fraught love story is primed for rediscovery. Valli isn’t the only designer in a nostalgic mood—historical references have been popping up all season, from wasp-waisted 1950s silhouettes to the power shoulder of the 1980s.
For Valli, the nods to Beauharnais’s exquisite wardrobe came through in embroidered vests that were worn over minimalism flared jumpsuits in pristine white or tucked under oversized sequin-trimmed tweed jackets. Arguably the most compelling use of tweed in the new collection appeared on a neatly tailored ankle-length frock coat.
The designer added menswear to his lineup for the first time with knit ribbed rompers that were straight out of Harry Styles’s closet and a long semi-sheer tunic embellished with strands of gold sequins. Valli is known for his fanciful eveningwear and regularly dresses a slew of celebrities for the red carpet—Ciara, who sat front row in a new season polka dot sheer dress, among them. Surprisingly it was the more down-to-earth looks that stood out in the lineup this time, most notably the marabou feather-studded cropped white jeans. Paired with a practical moto boot and not the painful vertiginous heels, the more traditional cocktail-hour fare gained a sense of ease that felt modern.