In recent years, Pierpaolo Piccioli‘s Valentino has become synonymous with a brilliant display of color. Diaphanous pinks and reds stole the Spring 2017 show (his first solo endeavor for the Italian house); since then, he’s put forth a steady pigment-heavy parade of lilac, violet, fuchsia, fiery oranges, and more. For the Valentino’s Fall 2021 season, however, the creative director opted for a more pared-back palette: stark shades of white and black were punctuated with the occasional touch of gold—to much dramatic effect.
After months of lockdown in Italy, Piccioli took to the renowned Picolo Teatro di Milano theater to stage (and livestream) the new collection. “Reopening a theater, even though only for the span of a show, is a bold, almost punk gesture: an invitation to aggregation and sharing when these activities are denied,” the season’s e-vite read. As the London-based artist Cosima and Milan’s Symphonic Orchestra Giuseppe Verdi performed Sinéad O’Connor’s “Nothing Compares 2 U,” spotlight-lit models, dressed in the lineup’s monochromatic ensembles, walked past rows of empty red seats. Netted turtlenecks peaked out from under crisp collared button-down shirts; inky sequins and embellishments dangled from sweaters; and, in a surprise to anyone who’s come to expect floor-sweeping gowns and voluminous silhouettes from Valentino, ultra-abbreviated hemlines were worn with everything from polka dots and lacy bibs to short wool capes and peacoats printed with an archival logo.
And yet, even in this ready-to-wear collection, couture-like craftsmanship nevertheless took center stage thanks, in particular, to a series of dresses that are surely already making the rounds on the mood boards of brides-to-be. Consider it proof that a sculptural neon green head-turner isn’t the only garment that can lift our spirits during these strange times. After all, who isn’t dreaming of running through our reopened cities in the season’s rubber petal-dotted stompers?
Below, see more of Valentino Fall 2021.