Lately, Pierpaolo Piccioli‘s direction at Valentino is towards creating clothes that celebrate life. Parisian cafés hold a particular charm for the designer these days. The Valentino show he staged last month had models walking out of the Carré du Temple to stroll in the surrounding streets, where people were sitting in cafés enjoying the en plein air experience. For resort 2022, which reads as a sort of prequel to the spring collection, the lookbook was shot in the Marais, a lively arrondissement populated by a hip and diverse crowd, in a café called Le Progrès. Its name resonates with Piccioli’s ongoing practice at the label, which he’s trying to steer forward without detracting from its history. “I want to bring life and a sense of reality into Valentino,” he said over Zoom from his studio in Rome. “Bringing it out of the atelier while retaining the savoir faire of the atelier.” Piccioli has been at the maison long enough to know its codes by heart; he has lived through its glamourous heyday, when Valentino Garavani received guests at his Château de Wideville, whose grounds were as perfectly manicured as the high-maintenance crowd that walked them. It was a world as fabulous as it was secluded and inaccessible. “I don’t want to forget the castle, but you have to be rooted in the present,” he said. “I want to bring the castle to the street, so to speak, and bring the street to the castle.” He calls this process re-signification; he feels that his duty as a fashion designer today is to be the vector of a vision of beauty in tune with the times we’re living in. “Beauty today means diversity and inclusivity; I want to encourage people to embrace it,” he said. Piccioli’s message is calibrated to appeal to younger generations, for which such values are a given; at Le Progrès, the cast included singer and TikTok-er Dixie D’Amelio; model and editor of the online platform the Youth Collective Project Amanda Prugnaud; filmmaker Christian Coppola; and actress Tina Kunakey. Every piece of the collection was treated individually to make it stand out on its own, not only adding to its value, but also allowing for the layered, personal styling which is becoming a sort of signature of Piccioli’s tenure. Shapes were simple and “almost elemental, without any grandeur,” and enhanced by elaborate decorations. A slender, slightly masculine white wool coat was appliquéd with floral ramages cut-out in black velvet, while a simple oversized black tee was intarsia-ed with lace as if a dressy blouse were somehow patchworked onto it. Eccentric flourishes were lavished on everyday pieces – feathers dotted sweats, capes, and svelte minidresses; long braided fringes trimmed ponchos; intricate broderie anglaise techniques appeared on slender, minimal tunics; and romantic blouses were encrusted with precious lace and worn with denim. “I wanted to make what is ordinary more imaginative and fantastical,” Piccioli said. “This is just extra-ordinary daywear.”
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.