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Men'sWeek issue 01/12/2012

“We wanted to balance the frescoes and traditional art of Florence with something modern,” said Valentino creative directors Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli of the setting for the house’s hotly anticipated men’s wear catwalk debut here on Wednesday night, as guests of honor at Pitti Uomo. The show was staged in the transporting Baroque rooms of the city’s 16th-century Palazzo Corsini.

This story first appeared in the January 12, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Providing a jolt back into the modern world, giant floor-to-ceiling screens were installed in the site for the occasion, flashing crackly black-and-white footage of the models moving through the sections.

It made a fitting set for the collection, which, offering a new take on the Valentino man, focused on sharply tailored modernist takes on men’s wear classics, straddling the sartorial tradition and new technology. Piccioli in an interview prior to the show said: “We wanted to [honor] the culture of couture, it’s very close to our world, to the world of Valentino, but also to the sartorial world.” Outerwear carried exaggerated rounded proportions echoing Fifties couture shapes. However, while evoking the weighty classic gentleman’s overcoats of yore, these fellows were ultralight and minimalist, with thermo-stitching replacing seams, or internal networks of heat-bonded tape in a shade of Valentino red. Slim cropped pants worn with shoes but no socks finished off the ensembles, giving a Mod spin, while sporty options included a rusty-hued safari jacket in nylon, bonded with cashmere. The full wardrobe ran from knits to a navy tuxedo in wool drill, as well as accessories, such as cool studded leather iPad clutches. While the smooth bonded-leather trench looked a tad secret agent, covetable outerwear options included an unlined duffle coat in crisp wool mixed with radzimir, a double cashmere coat, and a short navy peacoat with chunky knitted panels at the front. Taking his runway bow dressed in pieces from the collection, it was clear the house has already found a customer in Piccioli, and there are surely more behind him.

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