Valentino does athleisure? No, surely not. But it’s true. There it was on Pierpaolo Piccioli’s runway for the resort/cruise/pre-summer collection as the label varied its usual gorgeous-gowns-with-a-cultural-homage/appropriation-touch and offered up a bit more variety.
This really was a something-for-everyone collection.. well everyone with a fat wallet, at least… Red carpet? Tick. Cocktails on the yacht? Tick. Chilling in The Hamptons? Tick. Picking up the kids from Prince George’s nursery school? Tick. Watching the Monaco Grand Prix? Tick.
But apply some of those ideas to the high street and they could equally be about running for the train, a second date, a dressed-down day at the office, or your next birthday party. There was even denim, for goodness sake.
If I wanted to be uncharitable I’d say there was an Alessandro Michele influence detectable (and delectable) in the floral print casual jackets and the pleated skirts and dresses. But who can complain if the impact of the world’s most influential designer creeps in?
For the most part though, this still felt very Valentino with enough beautiful and covetable dresses to satisfy the the label’s well-heeled customers but a more practical edge that we usually only find in the Valentino Red collection.
So what were the key takeaways?
Colour: The expected palette of pinks, often mixed with yellows and reds, jockeyed for position with more surprising khaki and mid-to-teal green.
Relaxed outerwear: Think longline varsity jackets, luxe parkas, full and fluid MA1 bomber jackets, longline trenches, embellished cagoules, and roomy blousons.
The athleisure effect: Sidestripe track pants cut loose and fluid, and teamed with silky tracksuit jackets; and hooded track dresses in mini or midi lengths with shaping picked out in clinical white stitching. Valentino lovers can rein-in the full-on look by teaming the pants with a white shirt or the jacket with an after-six gown.
Loose pants: Those track pants point the way but roomy khaki or denim pants further underline just how much designer labels are trying to coax customers into wider cuts. Will it work, or will their attachment to the skinny win out?
Pattern power: Whether it was a Zandra Rhodes lipstick print, pre-Columbian totem prints, or embellished fatigues, the message here is that the print and embellishment trend has a long way to run yet.
Old friends: Have lace banding and pleated skirts had their day? Not a bit of it. Piccioli used lace to emphasise a fluid cut on his dresses or to add a dressy touch to a sporty top’s sleeves. And pleated skirts worked as strong vehicles for colour and to add a feminine edge when teamed with roomy outerwear. But both felt sporty too. A fluid blue skirt with slim lace banding came with a drawstring waist to emphasise that point.
Socks and sandals: Ankle socks have been a favourite for runway shows for a number of labels yet whether they can actually take off in a big way for grown-ups is open to question. But Piccioli likes them. Teamed with slides, strappy sandals or embellished trainer booties they look both youthful and comfortable. The key detail? Piccioli is loving colour + white. Think pastels, brights or black but don’t forget that white contrast.