Where last season was about full-blown fantasy and couture as the apex of fashion dreams, Pierpaolo Piccioli’s Valentino this season was a masterclass in realism and restrain. The collection was dedicated to the purity of clothing—of colour, texture and line. Line, in particular, appeared to be Piccioli’s main focus this time around and in a departure from his previous offerings, the predominant silhouette was long, lean and clean. The sense of verticality was further amplified by the models’ ultra-straight, long locks and the vertiginous heels they wore. The latter makes for undeniably impactful still imagery but translated more awkwardly on the runway where many of the models seemed to teeter. 

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Still, there were plenty of ideas in the collection that translated into highly desirable pieces. One that Piccioli reiterated in multiple variations was an ankle-length dress that he called second-skin but which actually had a soft, sensuous drape to it. Other winning ideas included the way he elevated seemingly everyday pieces into hero products via impeccable craft, construction and materiality—a white shirt became as impactful as a ball skirt; classic trench coats took on a romantic flair with subtle evocations of Dior’s New Look; capes were cut so sharp they were sculptural. 

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As always with a Piccioli collection, the palette was mesmerising—see the pairings of pistachio and rose, tobacco and mint, lilac and orange, cornflower blue and marigold yellow, the hot pink underskirt peeking out from under a sand and shell ensemble. And while Piccioli might have stripped away much of his usual extravagance and opulent adornments, there was still quiet drama to be had. This came through mostly in the textures—embroidered rosettes, all-over sequins, big jangling pailettes, latticework on capes and skirts, and the gold tinsel coat worn fabulously by Mariacarla Boscono

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