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Carmen Marc Valvo's warrior women of Constantinople

For Carmen Marc Valvo's fall 2014 collection, the Theatre at Lincoln Center was transformed into the crossroads of Constantinople. The Ottoman Empire was known for it's opulence and (often pilfered) riches.

Sherri Shepherd
©Constance Boardman 2014

What perhaps, is lesser known, is that during many of its most powerful years, it was actually ruled by the "Sultanate of Women", the mother's of the juvenile rulers of the period. These women were all slaves, yet through their sons, they exercised enormous power. And though there's no mention of this in the show's program, they are surely the inspiration for Carmen Marc Valvo's tribute to "warrior women".

"Warrior women are strong, proud and fearless. Ready for battle. Ready for love."

There are alluring bodices adorned with marriages of metal work and mosaics, breast plates and bustiers, unlined lace and riding coats - everything the modern woman needs, to do beautiful battle with today's world and emerge victorious. Steel chainmail, gunmetal leather, metallic brocades, wools and silks in delectable persimmon, oxblood, mocha and olive provide the heavy artillery.

Backup comes from the inestimable Ted Gibson with a hair design of battle-ready long braids and chopped off bangs or pulled back hairlines; Romero Jennings for MAC with perfectly executed black and gray, slightly dramatized faces, with extended eyelines; manicures of subtly gleaming pewter by Danielle Candido for Morgan Taylor and music by John K. Blanchard. No red-blooded male stands a chance.

And in a touching dedication in the program, CMV thanks his muse of over a decade, Taylor Foster, for whom we are informed this is a final walk down the Valvo runway. Drawing a parallel between a designer's relationship with his/her muse and dancing the tango, he writes "It can be slow and moody, or fiery and passionate; submissive or aggressive. And sometimes, when you dance with your muse in perfect harmony, magic is ceated."

Well, theirs was a longtime dance that created nothing but magic. Carmen Marc Valvo's clothes always make a woman feel as if she owns the red carpet or, in this case, like she rules an empire".