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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.

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A look at Piccioli’s Fall 2021 moodboard.

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.

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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.

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thoughts?