Valentino: Rendezvous with regeneration
In recent years, Valentino has staged its collections in a Rothschild mansion or behind Napoleon’s Tomb, presenting to a restricted and pampered audience. This season the Roman house took its collection right out onto the streets of funky eastern Paris.
In a path-breaking move, Pierpaolo Piccioli sent his cast first past the great and the good of fashion inside the Carreau de Temple and then outside the 19th-century wrought iron market to parade past a new generation of fashion and art students. Perched on bistro tables, they cheered on an impressive display by the Valentino brand.
Which itself included a whole new collection called Valentino Archive, once again an iconoclastic concept, since it was based on sourcing iconic looks out of founder Valentino Garavani’s early designs and regenerating them for the 21st century.
Longtime fans of the house will recognize many of them – the white dress worn by Marisa Berenson, animal print coats, glam floral dresses memorably photographed by Chris von Wangenheim. Often the new line consisted of couture ideas revived in acrylic hues, in techy fabrics like washed taffeta, polyfaille or nylon. Or stenciled-out nylon floral shirts, which Piccioli called The New Lace
All anchored by new military bovver boots or kicky centurion rock-stud sandals. While for guys, there were great double-breasted aubergine suits and techy faille shirts, worn with pearl necklaces and a man bag in green. Plus, some great new denim looks, including wide-legged silhouettes culled from the debut of Valentino Jeans back in 1985.
All taking Valentino out of a Roman palazzo and into the midst of the greater public. Very literally, as besides the creative colleges kids, several thousand young fashion fans outside defied the steady rain to cheer on each look as it rounded the market.
"It’s a celebration of the power of the image of Valentino. No boundaries but freedom of expression in salon and in the street. Rebooting the brand to give new meaning to recognized codes," explained Piccioli in a morning preview inside the Paris headquarters of Valentino, a corner view over the world’s jewelry mecca, Place Vendôme. And a far cry from the funky fourth arrondissement where this "Valentino Rendez-Vous" show was held.
The show also marked the first in Paris since the appointment of new CEO Jacopo Venturini, known as a merchandising wiz. And it comes after multiple reports from department store buyers that Valentino business has been slipping for several seasons.
Another reason that throwing open the doors to the outside world seems like such a smart idea.
A new CEO, and a new broom. A new show concept and a new fashion line. A new energy and Valentino looks like it's finally heading very much in the right direction.
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