I was getting a bit bored with the same old Valentino look a few months ago (obviously, Pierpaolo Piccioli was quaking in his boots at this) but the latest collection has made me a fan once again.
Not only did PP once again prove that as a solo creative chief he’s every bit up to the work that he did as part of a power couple with Maria Grazia Chiuri. But he also injected a bit of modernist fizz into the usual Valentino succession of always-beautiful-but-not-always-practical looks.
And he pulled doff another feat too. He made some quite-casual daytime pieces feel like they were part of the same creative strand that produced his party looks and his red carpet specials. Give the man a cigar!
And what he didn’t do is make it all a) too frilly, b) so heavy on volume that the models might have been morbidly obese without us knowing it (as if), or c) endowed with shoulders that an American footballer would think OTT.
No, he left that for others this fashion season and went on his merry way turning out looks that are helping to make Valentino a billion dollar brand.
He cited the Apollo moon landings as one influence and that 60s edge perhaps explained the use of clear PVC for casual jackets that opened the show. But overall, the feel was more 90s than 60s – think of Helmut Lang’s studio meeting an explosion in a sequin factory.
Nineties-style cargo pants but with pockets edged in velvet and teamed with a double layer sequin vest gave a new edge to the term ‘dressed-up casual’.
Utility jackets with their colour panelling, zips, drawcords and ultra-functional feel took us into territory we don’t usually expect from Valentino. The people who’ll wear these may be spending time on a yacht next summer but they’ll be sailing it rather than partying on it (although a fully sequinned version was glammed up enough for the most demanding cocktail party host).
As that jacket suggested, the dressed-up options in this collection were many and varied. You want a short, flirty dress for a summer party? Pick one from 20. You want the same look in a longer length. Here it is. You want boho, glam, girlish, sophisticated? It’s all here.
And those unifying strands made it all work together as a very satisfying whole. That double layer vest effect with deep scooped necklines, the panels of colour/print/embellishment, the fluid materials and (for much of the collection) the de-emphasising of the waist made for a very coherent series of looks that really did deserve the name ‘collection’.