The Scandalous Empress

Inspired by the spirit of Rome, the Fall 2015 couture collection for Valentino showcased designs worthy of a Roman Empress. 
The tunic dress styles, flowing fabrics and gilded jewelry were reminiscent of the controversial Empress Messalina.

Scandal is nothing new, and Messalina was at the heart of many controversies in the world of ancient Rome. Noted as quite a beauty, it's said that her soon-to-be husband, Claudius, was left drooling in her presence. 

When Claudius is Away, Messalina will Play, 1911 by A. Pigma

After marrying Claudius, Messalina, did anything necessary to protect her position. Rumors of affairs, adultery and murder were left in her wake. There was even speculation that she ran a brothel under a secret name and forced upper class women to work in the establishment.

Messalina has inspired the imaginations of many, including this 1951 Italian film and 1960s novel. 

An Empress is a far cry from a gladiator, but the collections gives gladiators the royal treatment in rich fabrics and detailing. We can easily imagine Messalina wearing garments like these as she interacted with the gladiators in the Colosseum. 

 Messalina may not have been the most admirable of women, but she does show how colorful history can be. Though we don't aspire to her scandalous intrigue, we can imagine the power and beauty she exuded and translate it to modern day through the lens of Valentino. 
Charlotte Wolter as Messalina, 1875 by Hans Makart