Only Pierpaolo Piccioli could link Valentino Garavani with Johnny Rotten and combine them into a great fashion collection and show.
Taking the idea of black-tie, one of the ultimate symbols of masculine power and using it to subvert and re-imagine a whole sense of style.
Piccioli had opened his most recent couture collection in January with a black-tie. On Sunday night, he made it dickie bow and tie; the linchpins of the whole fall/winter 2023 ready-to-wear collection.
Even as he linked the black ties to multiple elements in the Valentino DNA. Staging the show in the ideal setting – the grand towering Salomon de Rothschild mansion.
It all felt rather unexpected and classily subversive, like an early ‘Tom Boy’ look, a tuxedo worn as a dress, with high-collar shirt, black western tie, bovver boots and rock-stud handbag.
Pierpaolo was full of invention, a winged-collar used for a halter neck little black dress; a charming black smock dress finished like a tutu and completed with pointy white collar and black tie; a school girls’ pinafore extended into an evening gown.
In a co-ed show, he cut great volume blazers in sleek leather or sequined silver or green calfskin for guys. Looks often complete with black-and-white zigzag capes. There was so much black and white, Italian editors wondered if the Roman born Piccioli was really a Juventus fan.
The male wardrobe managed to encompass giant checkerboard coats, and long leather spy coats that brushed the catwalk in the mansion.
Post-show, a long line of admirers waiting patiently to be photographed with Piccioli, before he found time to discuss the collection.
“Everything was about breaking codes. The tie was the starting point. It is the symbol of white masculine power. So giving it to everyone emptied it of its meaning. Instead making it about personal choice,” said PPP in the backstage.
Occasionally, he transformed ties into a dresses, and he kept on making modern Valentino uniforms composed of a series of (horizontal) lines – makeup, collar, mini skirt and boots.
“It’s like when you got to school and then you drop your uniform. I wanted a new Valentino community, using the same codes – ruffles or roses – but to have new meaning,” added Pierpaolo.
Playing with Valentino’s sinful signature red in floating red shirts dresses, felt wool coats and punk-rock red and black mohair sweaters.
Warming to the theme of youth reinventing traditional symbols, he concluded: “My daughter Stella, almost three years ago, starting borrowing stuff from my wardrobe, hoodies and T-shirts. Then, all of a sudden, it was shirt and ties. Not because of the idea back to elegance. Just because it felt new. All the way to wearing ties, since she never really saw me wearing them!”
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