At Valentino, “Simplified” Does Not Mean “Simple”

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Couture details have been a bedrock of Valentino’s ready-to-wear line-up since Pierpaolo Piccioli started designing for the legendary Italian luxury house. Those details, so key to his expressive collections, are noted by fashion aficionados, but the average viewer is more impacted by the effect of the overall design, rather than its minutiae. Sweeping, massive volumes, huge kaftans, modest proportions, and a kaleidoscope of colors have made for some pretty emotional and evocative shows. But the sheer and scale and phyiscal largesse of his designs have prompted many imitators. For Spring/Summer 2020, Piccioli and Valentino change course, but the effect is still as impressive as ever.

Photo: Courtesy of Imaxtree

For Spring/Summer 2020, Piccioli and Valentino change course, but the effect is still as impressive as ever.

To the layperson, haute couture means fussiness, laborious care, incredible attention to detail, and an exorbitant price tag to match. The craftspeople stitching and finishing the garments are aware of how much time and skill is used to accomplish the exquisite finished products, but the general public isn’t. 

It’s like listening to music as an average person versus listening to it as a trained musician. The average person will hear the lyrics first, and the beat second, and the rest of the instrumentation as a kind of tapestry helping to fill out the song. The musician will notice the BPM, the tuning of the high hat, the types of guitar pedals used, the difference between a bass guitar, upright bass and synth bass, the recording techniques used to achieve certain effects on the song, how much vocal distortion the singer is using, and everything else. The more microscopic and nuanced the details, the more attuned the musician. 

Photo: Courtesy of Imaxtree

While employing couture-level techniques to create the Valentino Spring/Summer 2020 collection, Piccioli wanted the overall look to be a symphony of design and tantalizing tropical surfaces. From the purity of Valentino’s all-white line-up that started the show to the colorful orchestra of paillette-adorned capes, rainbow-embroidered florals, feathery finishes, and solid colored dresses with plunge-front details, the collection was stunning.

It was also simpler and more refined than what we’ve seen from the house lately, with an increased focus on cut, fit, and construction. Whether you are proficient in fashion or merely an appreciator of it, he offered myriad elements to fall in love with.

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