Monday 1st March

| BY Claudia Croft

Valentino: Ready-to-wear AW21

As the one-year anniversary of the pandemic rolls round, Pierpaolo Piccioli used his Valentino AW21 co-ed show to support the Italian theatre – which has been dark for nearly a year. The designer called it, “A gesture of love,” for the Italian arts and took us inside one of Milan’s most celebrated venues, Piccolo Teatro Strehler.

Calling his collection Act, he sent his models through the auditorium and up, onto the empty stage, serenaded by the brilliant Brit, Cosima. The look? This was no period drama. Piccioli offered something absolutely contemporary. He focused on very short skirts and teeny-weeny baby-doll dresses worn with bare legs, big knits and cape-like coats. As well as bringing back the mini-skirt, he’s also championing the high-heeled stiletto. After a year spent in comfy shoes, Piccioli is betting we will be ready for some serious spikes come the autumn, (although he wisely offers a flat, stompy, leather knee boot for anyone unwilling to hobble).

Aside from a couple of golden looks, the palette was resolutely monochrome. The sleek, metropolitan mood was lifted by the swish of the many capes on the catwalk. The designer threw in edgy crochet dresses and mesh knits for a touch of gothic romance. For men, it was all about boxy jackets and wide-leg ankle-grazing trousers. Worn with a big knit, mesh vest or even a cape, it ushered in a new kind of formality. Easy with a flourish.

Photography courtesy of Valentino.