IMG_3214.JPG 72“The artistry of the zen garden, minimal and austere, with bold strokes of color and form, with lacquered hair.”

Image1So begins the inspiration statement of the legendary designer, Carmen Marc Valvo for his Spring/Summer 2016 collection. “This season’s collection is very Asian inspired”, he said, backstage before the show. “It’s very yin and yang with a lot of calligraphy, brushstrokes, Koi and cranes. We have butterflies, we have dragon flies, we have all sorts of things.”

Image2And that combination makes this one of his most magnificent collections ever, and that’s really saying something. Black, white and bold, bold red were the colors of this catwalk, inspired in great part by the designer’s butterfly koi. It took two years to bring this vision to the runway. He said, “they had babies about two years ago in the pond, which is kind of cool. I wanted to try to do this, but the timing wasn’t right, then I didn’t know how to accomplish it.” But, two weeks before the mills closed, it all came together in these strong yet delicate looks. Hence, the yin and yang.

Image3Painterly prints and big florals added to the Asian-inspired theme, along with soft chiffons mimicking gossamer wings, leather and python patterns reflected shimmering fish scales. The fabrics were perfectly chosen, as well: double-faced wool, crepe, chemise, linen and leather.

Image6Shift dresses, either color blocked or patterned, had a real updated ‘60s feel, a truly modern mod. He brought palazzo pants to a new level, with a peony-printed pair, topped with a mesh inset maillot and another with a calligraphy crane design with an ivory racerback maillot. They were just so sexy.

Image5Then there were the swimsuits, all one-piece, most using the same brushstroke motif, all amazing.

Image4Of course, where Valvo’s collections really shine are in eveningwear, from a sleek, ebony organza lacquered gown to a poppy brushstroke gown (this, along with an ebony pleated gown inset with python is where you could really see the Koi influence), to the true show-stopper, the Changshou organza gown, they were light and airy, and oh, so glam.

Image7Image9I’ve focused on womenswear because that made up the bulk of the collections. His menswear used the same patterns and textures in perfectly tailored jackets and shorts, shirts and suits. And tailoring is so much a part of what makes a Carmen Marc Valvo collection truly special.

Image8While the looks are easy to wear, so much work goes into each piece, fit and cut to perfection, with touches like double pleated overlays and hand stitching that truly elevate the looks. Valvo says he is not an artist, but rather an artisan, dedicated to his craft, and it shows. I can’t wait to see what he creates next.


© Red Stiletto Media 2015                                  Photography: Anton Brookes

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