This season’s Valentino collection was entirely pink and black, which at first might sound like a banal thing to do. “I was fascinated by the idea of having this moment of reflection and digging deeper,” Pierpaolo Piccioli said during a preview. Presented in a huge space painted to match the exact pink of the collection, his idea was to intensify the senses and make us look at the details of each garment – the silhouette, the neckline, the surface decoration – rather than focusing on “looks”. Ultimately, he said, he wanted the character of each model to stand out, rather than what their appearance represented. “I was reading a book about Fontana [the Italian artist and Spatialist], who used to cut up his work – not in order to destroy it but to build new opportunities; new dimensions,” the designer went on. “You know when you see a book of black and white portraits, after two or three pages you know it’s a black and white portrait book, so you don’t expect to see blonde hair and blue eyes? You go deeper into expressions: wrinkles… I wanted to get that feeling.” Once the eye adjusted to all that pink, the effect did work. You noticed the details of garments, and looked at the models’ faces. For Piccioli, whose work always revolves around the celebration of individuality and diversity, the monochromatism – which is, in essence, uniformity – was meant to draw the observer’s attention to the individual wearing the clothes. To underscore that point, he focused on necklines – what he called “Madonna meets the street” referring to the way the Holy Mother’s face was framed by Renaissance artists – and placed them on a cast including Penelope Tree and Kristen McMenamy. The collection continued Piccioli’s couture-ification of everyday codes, adapted for ready-to-wear. A t-shirt elongated into a draped minidress, a sporty jumpsuit morphed into a formalwear silhouette, and a generational cargo suit was imbued with a glamorous hourglass shape. Menswear dealt in the very oversized, from giant suits to puffer coats and highly embellished transparent evening tops, all of which will be sold in stores in just pink and black, the way it was presented, Piccioli vowed. By the way, this isn’t just a shade of pink. Piccioli’s particular shade of pink will be added to Pantone’s official colour scale under the name of “Pink PP” – a counterpart, perhaps, to Valentino Garavani’s “Valentino Red”. And while he never wears pink himself, Piccoli explained it’s an ongoing fascination. “I always want pink in my collections. It’s a colour I feel you can subvert better, because it already has a lot of meaning. It changed during the centuries: it was the colour of the power of men, then it became girlish… I like to subvert the idea. Today, it means different things.”
Collage by Edward Kanarecki.