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It's the moment we've all been waiting for: Alessandro Michele's debut Valentino collection.

His grand entrance came sooner than expected. When the former Gucci designer joined Valentino back in March, a press release stated that his first showing would hit the catwalk at Paris Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2025 in September.

Instead, Michele makes his first mark on Valentino with a Resort 2025 collection that coincides with Men's Fashion Week — and, perhaps purposefully, on the same day that Sabato De Sarno, who replaced Michele as Gucci's creative director in 2023, showed his latest for the competing Italian house.

Michele's surprise reentry on the scene is a forceful reminder of what the industry lost during his momentary absence. But reaction to the collection indicates that Michele, or at least his fans, may have trouble moving on from his six-year tenure at Gucci, a stint that breathed new life (and sales) into the brand.

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Michele's 171-look outing for Valentino is a cornucopia of what he does best. He plays with pattern, texture, and embellishment, all filtered through a '70s-tinged lens. It's an aesthetic that defined his tenure at Gucci, so it's not surprising that onlookers are comparing his work at Valentino to that at his former role.

But the comparisons, which have spawned cheeky portmanteaus like "Guccitino" and "Valenucci," don't acknowledge that Michele has done his due diligence.

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The range is rich with references to Valentino's archive from the '60s and '70s. Take, for example, that Michele brings back founder Valentino Garavani's old "V" monogram, favored by fashion icon Jackie Kennedy.

Michele also updates Valentino's 1968 "Collezione Bianca," which garnered critical acclaim and helped cement the label as an industry heavyweight. (Speaking of Jackie Kennedy — the former first lady wore a dress from Collezione Bianca for her wedding to her second husband, Aristotle Onassis.)

Despite his faithfulness to Valentino's history and codes, Michele may have anticipated the comparisons to his former gig. Seemingly justifying Valentino's extravagant new look, the designer told Vogue: "[Garavani was] rather a maximalist, even in the 70s when he was at his most streamlined. There was always a very Roman sense of opulence and excess to his work distilled through an obsession for beauty.” 

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Yes, Michele's Valentino collection looks like his work at Gucci. It's an observation to be wielded less as criticism, and more as a testament to the fact that Michele managed to cultivate an instantly recognizable aesthetic during his six-year tenure at Gucci. Like any great designer, he will carry this design sensibility with him wherever he goes — it's his ethos, his POV, his "brand."

Michele's voice rings loud and clear through his Valentino debut. If it didn't, well, what would be the point?

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