Shown at Piccolo Teatro di Milano, Teatro d’Europa exclusively reopened for the occasion – an ‘’almost punk gesture’’ during a time when theatres are closed for COVID-19, according to the show notes – the Valentino Fall/Winter 2021 collection was a message of freedom and hope. Creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli said he wanted to ‘’share the emotions of a show when the communal activities are denied’’, and underscored that the Piccolo is ‘’a symbol of progressive culture and it embodies all the values our brand stands for, it’s a place of inclusivity and freedom’’.
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On a live performance by Cosima and Milan’s Symphonic Orchestra Giuseppe Verdi, crooning Sinéad O’Connor’s ‘’Nothing Compares 2U’’, the collection, as usual, was a visually intense experience, layered with emotions and extravagance.
We’ve become accustomed to Piccioli’s penchant for vibrant fuchsia and the house’s iconic Valentino red, but this collection’s monochromatic color scheme, almost entirely in black and white with the exception of a few gold looks, invited us to a new sense of intimacy. It was an ode to Valentino’s craftsmanship and artisans, as the embroideries and intarsia were exquisite and incredibly detailed, almost couture-like.
The clothes presented a game of transparency, heavily featuring laser cut textiles and sheer washes of lace, shielding and exposing the body simultaneously.
Nets were a recurring theme – enlarged in a diamond pattern on a cashmere sweater worn as minidress; elongated in a cut-out cashmere duster over a crisp white shirt and black short; and rendered in the second-skin high-collared turtlenecks worn throughout the collection and made with budellini, an atelier technique. ‘’I wanted the ésprit couture to be clearly felt in the collection”, said Piccioli, “but without any hint of nostalgia or redundancy’’.
Piccioli’s study of the white shirt continues, this time drawing inspirations from the 70s with oversized collars. They are worn open on tuxedo jackets, and made feminine with ruffles and lace embellishments at the neck. There is also a full-body fishnet jumpsuit (created in collaboration with heritage hosiery label Wolford) looks like an intriguing second-skin evening gown.
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