Dark Elegance. Valentino AW20

Pierpaolo Piccioli makes impressive couture for Valentino, that’s a fact. But ready-to-wear? I wasn’t sure about that until his autumn-winter 2020 collection, which is so, so sublime. And, surprisingly, dark. Well, there’s no wonder why. The future feels even more unknown and uncertain with coronavirus spreading in entire Europe (reality check: my university got closed down till the end of March for safety reasons…). Designers in Paris seem to state: black is the new black (just look at the apocalyptic Balenciaga). Asked afterward if he was feeling newly serious, Pierpaolo Piccioli said, “No, but fashion must be relevant.” As it turned out, Piccioli had a different kind of relevance on his mind, though. Over the last several seasons, he’s worked harder than most at bringing a new sense of inclusivity to his shows. In his new collection, he pushed his project further along. There were trans models in his cast and curvier-than-usual types too (a revolution is finally coming). He also had male models in the lineup. Backstage Piccioli said, “what I wanted to do was a portrait of a moment with no categories. Fashion has to record and embrace big changes in the world. We have to encourage tolerance and equality.” One way he went about illustrating his message was to strip away the color and quite a bit of the embellishment that we’ve become accustomed to at his Valentino. The show opened with a black mid-length belted cashmere coat and sturdy flatform boots. It wasn’t until look 26 that we saw a dress in full color, though eventually Piccioli did work his way around to many pieces in Valentino’s house red, as well as herringbones, leopard spots, and evening sequins for both women and men. And of course Adut Akech’s closing, sequinned gown. He said that the other way he tried to get his point across about a world without boxes was by putting guys in girls’ clothes and vice versa. The coat that opened his men’s show last month was worn by a female model here. Pierpaolo’s vision of inclusivity came dressed in sober, yet refined elegance. Simply speaking: it’s beautiful.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

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