The Choice – Valentino AW18 Couture

A few days ago I asked you on my Instagram stories to pick one of your favourite collections ever and I would make a collage with it. Here’s @kozlic_’s choice: the holy Valentino autumn-winter 2018 haute couture by Pierpaolo Piccioli. “With ready-to-wear, your vision of beauty relates to the times you are living in,” Piccioli stated back then after his magnificent show. Then, he concluded: “couture involves a deeper and more intimate perspective, to go further into your own vision of beauty.” Take a look back at this collection right here.

If you missed the game, you can still write me your favourite collection and I will do the work. Got plenty of time. Culture isn’t cancelled, fashion isn’t cancelled!

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.

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.

Shades of Elegance. Valentino Couture SS20

From all the couture shows this season, I (of course) anticipated Pierpaolo Piccioli‘s line-up for Valentino the most. For spring-summer 2020, a very different facet of Piccioli’s imagination transpired. The designer challenged himself to stop the operatic volumes and begin his search for a new silhouette. This time, it was structured, linear, fishtailed, modular, yet still drenched in color and pattern by turns. Looking back at the previous, ecstatic collections he dreamed up for us, he decided it was time to step off the path. “I hate it when people talk about ‘storytelling.’ I am not a storyteller. I don’t have the feeling that Cristóbal Balenciaga, Saint Laurent, Charles James, Mainbocher, whatever—I don’t feel they had stories of the season.” Trusting himself to free-association meant exploring form and emotion in ways that emphasized choice, variety, and the ingenious devices that only the Valentino craftspeople are able to realize. There were more trousers, more columns than before; an interest in constructing layers in ways which only the wearer will know about. Bubbles, bows and plenty of Valentino red recurred. There was a gorgeous color palette – purple, eau de nil, scarlet, pink, mint… and black (this one looked super refined in the eveningwear section). As usual, the best.

Collage by Edward Kanarecki.