After last season’s hyped partnership between Valentino and UNDERCOVER, there was a lot of anticipation, if not expectation, on creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli.
Then, the collection was right on point, this time it could have included more versatility. With UNDERCOVER's Jun Takahashi - a longtime friend of the Valentino creative director - Piccioli pushed the culture forward by cross-pollinating the once distant worlds of luxury and streetwear in an authentic way.
This season, updated Valentino Garavani sneakers, neon camo T-shirts and logoed bags and pouches - items that are among some of the most commercial items that Valentino has and have been bestsellers for years - graced the runway.
Piccioli is a brilliant designer, one of the most talented ones the fashion industry has. His women’s ready-to-wear collections and haute couture are full of emotion and narrative.
Of course menswear is different but the clothing still needs to feel fresh and exciting. Luckily what hit the right spot was Piccioli’s collaboration with acclaimed English artist Roger Dean, known for his dreamy, otherworldly artworks.
Prints of bright-colored futuristic, dystopian landscapes where the sun never sets and dragons fly, covered bowling shirts, car jackets and a stunning knit towards the end. They were accompanied by texts like "yellow city," "red dragon" and "blind owl" on their backsides.
There was a sense of escapism, looking towards an unknown, yet more optimistic, future. Micro-dosing for the current generation reaches the same place. No wonder Pink Floyd’s psychedelic 1973 track “Breathe (in the Air)” ran as soundtrack.
“Utopias have the power to shape what is not there, and are charged with the urge to make it happen. The elsewhere is made possible,” read this season’s show notes.
Coral necklaces and crunched ponchos were travel souvenirs, collection along the way and worked well as subtle styling tweaks.
The commercial collection will surely sell well when it drops later this year. But a healthy dose of risk taking will be needed to surprise the young, streetwear-inflected audience that Valentino is looking to reach with its menswear. The talent and brand cache are certainly there.