Monday 5 July 2021

Paris Haute Couture: Antonio Grimaldi

A black-velvet, mini-dress with voluminous sleeves and floating train embodies Italian designer Antonio Grimaldi's take on the Eighties for his new AW 21/22 collection. 

Today in Paris, the haute couture Autumn/Winter 2021/22 season opens with most couturiers showing digital presentations. Italian designer Antonio Grimaldi filmed his new collection in a vast, modernist space in Rome. Escaping the dour pandemic ethos, he was inspired by the glamour and fun of the 1980s with sculptured, diaphanous party gowns, writes Jeanne-Marie Cilento

Couturier Antonio Grimaldi with
his muse and model Anna Cleveland in Rome
THE setting for Antonio Grimaldi's digital presentation of his new haute couture collection for Autumn/Winter 2021/22 was a vast, modernist space in Rome. Turning away from the sombre atmosphere induced by the rolling waves of Covid-19, the couturier looked to the Eighties for inspiration. Grimaldi wanted his new collection to express that decade's glamourous hedonism. 

Called the "Ladies Club", he envisioned the collection as a women-only party that is festive yet dreamlike. His designs capture the essence of the Eighties but in a more sculptural, streamlined way with long capes and skirts. However, there is not a shoulder-pad in sight. 

Grimaldi also adds trains to some gowns to make the silhouette more dramatic, including on mini-dresses and as an extension to long, sinuous capes. 

 The designer's signature is an elegant and dynamic asymmetry, the austere line offset by curves and intricate embroideries, This season includes sculptural necklines mixed with asymmetrical openings on the front and plunging open backs. There are also one-shouldered bodysuits embroidered with crystal and covered with feathers. The collection's twenty-one looks feature cocktail and evening dresses worn with tall, metallic stiletto heels.

The palette ranges from black to glacial white and includes pale pinks, inspired by the aurora borealis, and heightened by fluorescent hues in lime green and light blue. Model Anna Cleveland, pictured with the designer above, is Grimaldi's muse for this season.

Turning away from the sombre atmosphere of the pandemic, the couturier looked to the Eighties for inspiration 

Sculptural curves and vivid colour
are signatures of the designer
Antonio Grimaldi says he always wanted to be a designer, since he was a child. He is passionate about art, fashion and in particular about craftsmanship. He learnt the secrets of couture in a small atelier in seaside Salerno, on the mountainous southern coast of Italy. Grimaldi started working with his mother and sister when he was 15 years old and later designed his sister’s wedding dress. 

In the summer, he started to go regularly to the atelier in Salerno because he wanted to learn about how to make beautiful clothes. The designer says when he was growing up in Italy, fashion school was only for women, so he went on to study graphics and art but was still determined to be a fashion designer.
He attended an art institute before learning more about the craftsmanship of fashion and tailoring. He completed his training when he moved to Rome and started to work in the studio of the historic fashion house, Fernanda Gattinoni.  

Today, he says that working with dressmakers early in his career taught him about textiles and the art of modelling designs to the body. He explains it was also very satisfying to work in an atelier, when he was young, where he was able to turn his sketches from dream to reality. Because the designer studied art rather than fashion, this is still an important aspect of his design philosophy for all of his collections. 

He learnt the secrets of couture in a small, family atelier in Salerno, on the mountainous southern coast of Italy

Asymmetry and beautiful tailoring
enhanced the fluidity and 
virtuosity of the new collection
In 1996, the designer became the co-founder of 'Grimaldi Giardina' and the collections were presented at Altaroma in the Italian capital. Emanuel Ungaro also encouraged Grimaldi to show his work during the haute couture week in Paris. 

In 2010, Grimaldi decided to created his own fashion house in his name. One of the highpoints of his career was being invited to show as a couturier during Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week. 

He says this is important from a business standpoint, as it provides the best fashion platform in the world to reach international buyers. Since 2017, he has been an invited member of the official couture calendar in Paris.  

During the initial phases of creating a couture collection, Grimaldi thinks about the mood of the collection and then does the sketches. Next the fabrics and textures are chosen but this changes as the design of a garment develops. 

Lastly are the modelling and cut of the gown that will eventually be seen in that season's show. The designer sees the process of creation as the same for both ready-to-wear collections and couture. However, he believes art is the sina qua non for designing haute couture. Artistic and conceptual ideas along with the marvellous hand-workmanship are essential to couture and separate it from all other forms of fashion.

Highlights from Antonio Grimaldi's AW 21/22 Haute Couture Collection 

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