Valentino: Ready-to-Wear SS21

Set in the disused Fonderia Macchi, a former 1930s metal factory in north east Milan, Valentino’s creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli brought the brand home to Italy for the first time under his reign. Normally a stalwart of the Paris schedule, the brand chose an apt year to stage it in the country in which it was born, not just as Italians are in the process of reclaiming their culture in the aftermath of the pandemic, but because this collection was about the Valentino’s “ever-evolving identity” as seen through Piccioli’s – one of Italy’s most celebrated sons – gaze.

Set to the mellifluous tones of Labrinth and his live band (a joy to behold), the collection was about personal expression. “The individual vision of Pierpaolo Piccioli touches the individual spirit of each person, and what comes out of it is a suggestion of what Valentino can be now,” read the show notes, “It’s about the values that make an ever-evolving identity, not the aesthetic that solidifies it.” It showed. Collections are often lauded for cohesion, but this was beautiful in its cohesive un-cohesion; looks here were defined by the personality and attitude which shone through from the cast of models, which was by far the most diverse of the week.

For womenswear, sculpted minidresses, laser-cut maxis, and straw-lace jumpsuits walked alongside Teatro Scala-ready chiffon ballgowns in rainbow florals and divine Valentino red, while caped sequinned silhouettes came tight and tasselled (superwoman references are a trend in Milan). Menswear was Haute sporty, with relaxed tailored short suits and embroidered baseball cardigans grounded in box-fresh sneakers and bright white socks.

Elsewhere, oversized rockstuds on shoes and bags reinvented the brand’s signature hardware for a new season. “By being fragmented in a multiplication of views, the Valentino identity finds its inclusive, lively unity,” ended the notes. Fresh from his International Women’s Designer of The Year CFDA award, it was a proud homecoming for Piccioli, whose relevant and honest approach to Valentino – and fashion in general – proved a poignant and refreshing end to the Italian leg of shows.

Photography courtesy of Valentino.