The world of haute couture and the high street collided last night when Giambattista Valli staged a catwalk show with H&M during a star-studded spectacular in Rome.
The designer, who was born in the Italian capital and shows his collections in Paris, is beloved of socialites and It-girls who flock to him for his signature frothy gowns with extravagant trains and exquisite cocktail dresses.
Last night, Valli’s devoted fan Kendall Jenner was on hand to ensure that his showstopping tulle confections looked every inch red carpet-ready – despite being a fraction of the cost of his eye-waveringly expensive couture.
As the latest in a line of cult high-end collaborations, which have in the past included partnerships with Karl Lagerfeld and Versace, Valli’s collection consists of 60 womenswear pieces spanning £12.99 for a pair of knee-high logo socks to £399.99 for a heavily beaded evening dress. In a first, the couturier also unveiled his debut 47-piece line of menswear featuring ruffle-front frock coats and leopard print sweats, which Valli hopes will appeal across genders.
Among the pieces poised for instant sell-out status, when the collection touches down in stores on November 7, was a ballet pink tulle tutu dress modelled by Jenner last night and a scarlet mullet train gown which was worn by every female model in the finale walk, accompanied by male models dressed in gold embroidered jackets.
The show was held in Rome’s breathtaking Palazzo Doria Pamphilj which was lined with original artworks by Italian painters including masterpieces by Caravaggio.
For Valli, who’s label is in the minority of non-French houses to be recognised by Paris’s exclusive Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, the high street collaboration offered the opportunity to expand his customer base beyond his celebrity clientele who have wardrobes stuffed with dresses boasting six-figure price tags.
“It was inspiring to support something that is open to everyone,” said Valli, speaking ahead of the show. “This collection is about turning our dream world into a reality.”
The collaboration was first announced in May at the amfAR gala in Cannes, after which the looks showcased on the red carpet by the likes of Jenner and social media influencer Chiara Ferragni were available to buy at 12 select H&M stores and on the brand’s website. This marked the first time in which a H&M designer collaboration has been available to buy immediately after the announcement and the limited drop promptly sold out with gowns changing hands on resale sites such as eBay for more than their retail value.
But for Valli, the key motivation was to make the everyday fashion consumer think differently about their high street shopping habits.
“I don’t care about trends – I write a different chapter of the same book,” he said. “It is built into the minds of the new generation that they must keeping buying something new before it goes out of fashion. I hope that in this collection I have created collectors pieces that will last in wardrobes forever.”