Pierpaolo Piccioli delivered a message of love through the poetry of clothes at Valentino.
The theme of the show “Valentino on Love” was illustrated profoundly through the clothing with snippets of poetry making appearances across, and embroidered inside coats, dresses as well as the interior of bags and boots.
It was also addressed to the audience by way of an illuminated billboard at the end of the runway with an excerpt by Scottish poet Robert Montgomery that read “The people you love become ghosts inside you and like this you keep them alive”. There was also a specially curated booklet featuring original poetry by Montgomery, Greta Bellamacina, Ysra Daley-Ward and Mustafa The Poet on the seats for the guests to take home.
Grammy-winning songwriter Mustafa The Poet, who has collaborated with musicians such as Drake and The Weeknd, considers this partnership something very close to his heart. “I was gutted when I saw some of my work on the back of these coats and on these gowns. It moved me in a way I never would have imagined. I’m used to hearing my lyrics on songs, but this in particular was a new kind of joy that I didn’t know that writing could bring me,” he told biannual publication Garage magazine.
Love is indeed in the air but elaborate theatrics aside, at the end of the day, this is fashion — and clothes were the priority. For those familiar with Pierpaolo Piccioli’s work for Valentino, you know he never disappoints. And while he consistently delivers desirable collections, this collection was hands down one of his best efforts yet.
Every one of Piccioli’s shows is an emotionally charged masterpiece thanks to the empowering beauty of his clothes and his singular vision of reworking the maison’s revered couture traditions without sacrificing any of its romanticism. Says Piccioli in an interview with Vogue, “I want to get Valentino away from the idea of couture as something that belongs to the past. I really want Valentino to be a couture house of today.” In that sense Piccioli’s modus operandi was to merge couture and street, by designing T-shirts and ballgowns with the same commitment and discipline of couture.
To imbue the collection with that streetwear sensibility, Piccioli once again tapped the genius mind of designer Jun Takahashi from Undercover to create collage prints inspired by love. Takahashi first worked with Piccioli on the brand’s Fall/Winter 2019 menswear collection. For Valentino’s womenswear, Takahashi combined a print of a 19th-century neoclassical sculpture of kissing lovers with a psychedelia of roses. The colourful collages worked harmoniously on Piccioli’s masterful designs and using intarsia and appliqué techniques acquired from couture, the prints were artfully displayed on the bodice of a dress and at the sides of a coat.
Piccioli has an innate understanding of what confident woman likes to wear today emphasising his designs had to be “the right balance between being demure and fashion forward”. Case in point: The deceptively simple mini dresses and the short coats referencing refined, sculpted couture shapes. Talking about coats, there were plenty of standout gems like the not-so-ordinary long trench coat plastered with Takahashi monochromatic prints or the short cocoon shaped feather-embellished coat in neon orange.
From the very beginning, one of the great challenges Piccioli has had to tackle head-on is how to change up the values of couture and make it relevant today. Clearly he has passed with flying colours.
Image credits: Runway images courtesy of Valentino, artwork by Curatedition. Valentino FW 2019 look as worn on model Leevke/Ave: styling by Sharon Tulasidas, Photography by Wee Khim, Hair & Make-up by Marc Teng.