Valentino’s Spring 2017 Couture show marked the first collection for Pierpaolo Piccioli post-departure from his 25-year-long co-designer, Maria Grazia Chiuri. He turned to mythology for inspiration. The result? A collection shaped around Greek goddesses.

Using Greek goddesses as a source of inspiration is far from novel. Countless collections have called upon the Greek muses as a basis for their aesthetic. However, for a defining collection from a very Italian designer of a very Italian brand, this was not only a strategic choice but an effortless fit.

Recently, the landscape of haute couture has been marked by great volatility — the head designers play a complex game of musical chairs, hopping from fashion house to fashion house. As the designers fluctuate, so too do the core complexions of the brands. By basing his collection on goddesses, Piccioli was making a declaration that he does not intend to digress from the ethereal femininity that Valentino has championed for the past several decades.

Ultimately, it is not the inspiration that delineates a collection but rather the designer’s execution. Piccioli pledged himself to his celestial inspiration, naming every look after legitimate Greek mythological figures and incorporating details from their narratives into the individual pieces. The result — a collection that was radiant and surprisingly intellectual.

Look 45: Titled Pasithea, one of the Graces. Daughter of Zeus and wife of Hypnos, Pasithea was the goddess of relaxation and meditation. This manifests in the dress’ elegant simplicity, a comparatively relaxed dress in conjunction with the more ornate looks.

Look 47: Named Pandora, after the famous first human. Infamous for her accidental introduction of evil into the world. Piccioli opted for a literal interpretation of his inspiration, Pandora herself is hand-embroidered on the left side of the garment in a golden orange thread.

Look 50: Christened Arethusa. Arethusa was a nymph who was transfigured into a flowing spring, surrounded by flowers. The piece has an elongated stripe which originates below the neckline and extends to the floor. Surrounding the stripe are macramé flowers, much like flowers surrounding a stream.

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