There is no stopping the runaway creative success of Pierpaolo Piccioli’s Valentino.
At the Pre-Fall 2019 show in Tokyo, the chief of Valentino’s Fashion Group, Stefano Sassi, nailed the rarefied intersection at which the brand presides, “There was the DNA of Valentino proposed in a way that was charming, modern, super light, and actually we love this kind of combination between something that is coming from the past and talking to the new generation.”
Although, talking to a new generation hasn’t necessarily translated to epic sales. Growth was up seven percent year-on-year in 2018 – which is not nothing, but is slower than desired. While the label looks to strengthen its accessories output, which should put it on pace to capture the growth the company desires, Piccioli tacitly acknowledges the period he is in with Valentino with the note, “Everything turns, rotates, evolves, repeats, and blooms,” for Spring 2019 Couture. This brings to mind the ecclesiastical passage (and subsequent 1965 tune by The Byrds), “There is a season, turn, turn, turn… a time to plant, and a time to reap.”
Since venturing out solo, Piccioli has been carefully, thoughtfully planting his Valentino flowers in rich soil. Now they are ripe, blossoming. The brand seems poised to gain more growth in the luxury market. Its output is unparalleled, especially at Paris Haute Couture Week. Celebrities are devouring Valentino’s extravagant looks on the red carpet. Social media loves every show stopping moment.
It is time to reap.
Valentino, right now, is metaphorical lightning in a bottle. Its diverse cast ensured that 48 out of the 65 models who walked the show were black. Naomi Campbell returned to the Valentino runway after a 14-year absence to close the show in astonishing fashion. The atelier was celebrated and acknowledged, as Piccioli asked the seamstresses “to personally name each dress with a name of a flower or with the emotion brought by the flower itself,” a wonderful gesture which was inspired by the ABCs of Flowers. Adut Akech opened the show in ‘Rosa Madame Pierre Oger’, a magnificent budding look that framed her stunning her face. Every detail of the show was as emotional and considered as it was beautiful. All of it adds up to a brand, a collection, a show that is deserving of the highest praise.
It was hard not to be made dizzy by the heady experience of it all.
By now, Piccioli’s aesthetic is well-hewed. His shapes are roomy and very “couture”, his colors are spectacularly vivid, either coming in eye-popping prints, solid head-to-toe panels or as beautifully paired blocks. Fabrics look heavy, but are ephemerally light, moving gracefully down the runway, revealing fabulous interior structures. Florals have become a potent storytelling arc, and are used to inspire the collection’s incredible, blossoming silhouettes and its fantasy prints. Spring 2019 Couture pushed all of this vernacular into bolder, brighter, and more beautiful territory, and the flower – a symbolic reminder of femininity and fertility – was at the center, soaking up the shine. It was hard not to be made dizzy by the heady experience of it all.