The conventional uniform has underscored most collections this season. It makes sense: a preset wardrobe embeds wearers with a sense of identity, eliminates unnecessary decision-making and cuts the time of getting ready so you can focus your morning routine elsewhere (think spare time to snooze). If four weeks of fashion shows have homed in on a particular message, it is that people are craving practical, directional clothing that can be worn now, not stored away for a special occasion. Just ask Pierpaolo Piccioli’s 15-year-old daughter, who mined her father’s wardrobe in search of such solutions, for proof.
“She’d taken one of my black suits, white shirt, and black tie and was on her way out the front door,” Piccioli explained to Vogue.com. “It was amazing to me because she’d never seen me wearing a suit to the office. I keep some I wear with a bow tie to things like the Met Ball and other events, but never on a daily basis.” The encounter catalysed the theme for Valentino’s fall 2023 collection, aptly called Black Tie. The messaging—loaded with models bearing tattoos, endless winged liners and facial piercings—was twofold: first, the kids are more than alright and second, the shackling limits of the suit and tie don’t exist in Piccioli’s imagination. They are, ironically, an invitation to let his design instincts run wild.
A black-and-white minidress in a halter neck style held up by a shirt collar opened the show; a sweet appetiser of what was to come. Micro shorts and barely-there minis followed next, all accessorised with black ties and enough stellar outerwear options (tailored blazers, leather jackets, shaggy coats and graphic black-and-white versions emblazoned with polka dots and oversized, upside-down Vs) to quash any winter woes. Then, the collection warmed up: a series of looks in the house’s signature hue enlivened oversized coats and floor-skimming shirts-cum-dresses, which fell into evening territory via three-dimensional roses, lace, feathers, beads and sequins that skimmed the surfaces of sheer blouses, miniskirts and floor length gowns (complete, of course, with ties).
The final looks, each capable of generating a fashion ‘moment’ on their own, emphasised Piccioli’s Midas touch. Take his long-sleeve, floor-length gown with cuffs and collar or the oversized white shirt and tie he paired with a mermaid-style skirt, dripping in ombré paillettes. It’s an unconventional pairing but seen through Piccioli’s eyes, is one that makes perfect sense—and any celebrity would be remiss to leave her tie at home when dressing for her next red carpet.