Pierpaolo Piccioli has been under the Valentino umbrella for almost 9 years now. He has seen the comings and goings of a huge establishment and Maria Grazia Chuiri’s departure. For A/W 18, his third menswear show without Maria Grazia, Piccioli pushed toward longevity and modernity, while keeping the house-rules at play.
Last season, and in fact the season before, he succeeded in incorporating sportswear elements, introducing trainers, cross body bags and baseball caps with a slight street-wear twang. This season, his journey into the modern uniform continued - this time with a dive into the archive alongside it.
Models appeared in tailored coats with inlaid flowers - the floral pattern taken from the archives and brought into the now with tonal greys and new bag tucked and scrunched under arm. The new Garavani messenger bag, a firm favourite with the Valentino customer, had been given a sprinkle of sportswear in a patent leather and camo print - the latter another print from the archives, last used when Maria Grazia was still at the house. Other knee-length coats looked to the rockstud for their aesthetic twist. Here, the signature Valentino embellishment had been added in various sizes and thicknesses to hem and cuff. The rockstud is an appealing addition for the customer who comes for the luxury shapes, techniques and accessories - lest we forget the hysteria around the rockstud heel. Look a little closer and the studs could be found peppered throughout the collection - a little reminder for those looking, it could only be Valentino.
For those that want something a little more explicit, Piccioli had brought the nineties logo VLTN back into fruition, placing it on the backs of bomber jackets, across sunglasses and on bags in black and orange. As well as across the back of the new Moncler x Valentino collaborations. An easy entry-way for the younger generation who are still reeling from logomania. A high turnover doesn’t solely come from your top-earning demographic and this is a smart but seamless way of incorporating elements of sportswear into the traditional DNA of a brand.
Indeed, it seems that Piccioli had had his ear to the ground, his fingers in the pies. It’s easy for a house as instrumental and as regarded as Valentino to ignore the fads, the passing trends, and continue with bettering a brand’s core values and identity. But here, Piccioli is listening to his customers’ demands, picking up on the popular and widening his market with the new and accessible without damaging the existing clientele's favourites.
Case in point: Piccioli brought trainers back from S/S 18, giving them an 'ugly shoe' (a trend that will not cease for 2018) twist with rope and paint speckles. That shape and pattern will no doubt be a popular asset. This slight move to sportswear is compensated by the embroidery detailing, inlay, super-luxe bonded jackets and vintage like shapes (capes that swooshed over the silhouette) which Valentino royalists will be delighted to see. Clashing colours, high-necks and layered jumper felt like a fresh approach. Actually, it was all rather fresh and refined - a modern elegance for the Valentino man.