Spring 2021Ready to Wear
Pictures by Valentino
Valentino Returns to Italy and Reimagines the Classics
Pierpaolo Piccioli took the international stay at home order to heart this season, as he opted to keep Valentino in Italy for his co-ed Spring 2021 show, forgoing the brand’s long-standing headline at Paris Fashion Week. The Rome based label traveled north to Milan for a live runway show that was presented in an industrial factory. The space was transformed with the help of Japanese plant artist Satoshi Kawamoto, who arranged a variety of greenery and flowers to contrast with the sparse, grayness of the vast room. The dichotomy between hard and soft played directly into Piccioli’s new collection, which explored the blurred lines between a luxury label appealing to a mass market in a time of financial insecurity, as well as taking Valentino in a more casual direction. If this collection seems a bit more commercial than those of the past, you’re not wrong. This is the direct effect of luxury brands trying to make their bottom line in an unstable economy.
Fortunately for Valentino, they have the creative genius of Piccioli at their helm, masterfully steering the brand in the right direction. A collaboration with Levi’s produced a reworking of the iconic 1969 517 boot cut jeans that were paired with billowing, sheer blouses and oversized blazers. Casual rompers and daytime mini dresses dominated the first half of the show, appearing in solid black and white, as well as with laser-cut lace patterns. Of course, this being Valentino, Piccioli wasn’t going to let a collection slide by without a few oversized floral prints, first appearing on Ivana Bekirova in a body engulfing tent dress of multi-colored flower prints, and continuing to other offerings in yellow, green, and red, all keeping with the flowing, maxi style. There were also inevitable touches of couture inspiration, how could there not be? Piccioli has built Valentino to be a brand known for modern evening wear, and no pandemic or economic crisis will change that fundamental aspect of DNA. The Spring show wrapped with a series of sheer, billowing dresses accented with layers of ruffles, in vibrant hot pink, muted nude and brown, soft lavender, and the inevitable fire engine red, which swathed Denise Ascuet in floor-grazing chiffon.
The glaringly obvious show note, of course, is the triumphant return of the Rock Stud, that commercial unicorn for the brand that debuted in 2010 and appeared on heels, handbags, belts, and other accessories from Paris to Portland and back again. The oft-imitated and oversaturated market for the Rock Stud was a financial gold mine for Valentino, so it makes sense to revive it at a time when the luxury market is in a downfall. This season saw the shiny triangles double up in size and appear on strappy flats and handbags, complimenting those V buckle belts, hoping to earn their place alongside the infamous H for Hermes and double G’s for Gucci belts that are synonymous with luxury casual wear.
Despite the obvious challenges that have plagued designers this season, sparing no brand, Piccioli continues to be a master of adaptation, steering Valentino where it needs to go to be a success, whether that be on the red carpet, or the hallway rugs of our own homes.
Written by Elizabeth Kramsky