Red Valentino, just like many lower-priced brands, often suffers by comparison to its luxe big sister. Just look at what happens around catwalk time. The few paragraphs (at most) people dedicate to Red are nothing compared to the endless pontificating on the meaning of this colour or that embroidery from the mainline Valentino collection.
Myself, I find Valentino itself increasingly unapproachable. Too many evening dresses, too many prices that read like telephone numbers, too few bits of directional daywear that might just filter through to the high street. It’s gorgeous of course, but that’s about it.
Red on the other hand is more affordable (coats ‘only’ £800, dresses ‘only’ £700, sweaters ‘only £550). But its greater proximity to real life means there’s more likely to be the odd you-might-be-able-to-wear-this piece, even the odd trend.
So what about SS18? Pierpaolo Piccioli and his team kept it colourful with a strong feel for print on easy dresses and separates. There was no denim as there has been in previous collections (which is pretty brave considering denim’s strength at the moment), but there were enough familiarly signature looks to guarantee that confirmed label fans will be happy.
But what else did we get? Confirmation that the flatform sandal is the way forward. With ankle strap, woven and studded leather and a palette of black, tan or red (the tan occasionally acting as a contrast to the red or black), it felt dressy enough for town but it also had a casual, vacation edge that should appeal come next summer.
It worked as a strong complement to the collection’s figured leather, fringed or tasselled bags – from oversized satchels and sturdy shoulderbags to must-have mini bags. Again, the feel was luxe casual.
And those two words (luxe casual) summed up the whole collection when it came to the line-up of dresses, separates, mini skirts, crop tops and safari-influenced skirt suits.
In a fashion world where seasonal confusion is big news, this was an unashamedly high summer offer with prints and patterns that feel like they could force the sun to shine. Even a covetable tribal-influenced leather dress that would make a great Christmas party option (if the collection drops in-store early enough) oozed sunny climes.
As did the prints. Stylised formal repeats, a heart print, a tree print with subtle 50s modernist edge, the monkey print that was widely used – all added a warm-weather-whimsical touch that both softened the look but also helped drag the label away from the excessively girly profile it has sometimes had in the past.
Not that it’s likely to go down a storm with the biggest buyers of luxury labels (the over-40s). It may not have been girly but it was young and that meant there was plenty that was a gift for the high street.