From the mountains of Japan to the desert outside Los Angeles, the 2018 cruise-show season has seen fashion editors embark on a month-long world tour, flying from one breathtaking multimillion-pound extravaganza to the next. Not so today. Instead, Pierpaolo Piccioli presented Valentino cruise in a brick-walled warehouse building on New York’s Lower East Side. “I wanted to find an intimacy in the moment,” the designer said of a show where the outstanding spectacle was, radically, the clothes themselves. This was a standout collection that mixed a kind of haute sportif with the house’s signature elegance, channelling the spirit of what Piccioli calls “the most energetic city in the world” and its hip-hop culture, alongside exquisitely crafted Roman femininity. Track pants and varsity jackets, flip-flops and cut-out zip-front dresses, sports socks and leotards… who would ever expect to see those at Valentino? “I’m obsessed with making beautiful clothes seem effortless and less precious,” said Piccioli of a fresh, playful and gorgeously detailed collection in which he also reworked staples like the trench-coat, the utility jacket and the caped midi dress. A khaki bomber jacket had the elastic removed and instead puffed into a cloud of silk; plastic pool slides were trimmed with striped mink and trainers smothered in feathers; a vibrant red track jacket had Valentino emblazoned across the back in meticulous pink beading.
This was luxury, clearly, but it felt youthful and modern – for the first time, more about daywear than a parade of perfect gowns. Afterwards, Piccioli talked of “finding the harmony in difference” – the word “diversity” was spray-painted across his backstage moodboards – and the responsibility of a designer to reflect the world around them as opposed to living a fantasy. That he did with both style and grace. A bravura performance.
By Avril Mair
From: Harper’s BAZAAR UK