“Authentic rebellion has a grace. It does not scream, it is a state of mind,” read the Valentino show notes.
For the past few seasons, Pierpaolo Piccioli has been exploring his vision of masculinity, one that casts off gender stereotypes to focus on individual expression. After cycling through punk and streetwear, his journey led him to post-punk performers such as Adam Ant, The Cure and Visage.
In line with his ethos of quiet rebellion, the New Romantic influences were subtle — a smudge of eyeliner here, a silver spike stud there. The latter sprouted up on the sleeves of a slim navy double cashmere coat, or a lightweight black parka. A leather jacket would have been too formulaic, Piccioli argued.
“It’s about the personal gesture,” he said backstage. Behind him, a series of mood boards displayed images including a portrait by Italian Renaissance painter Lorenzo Lotto, dreamlike photographs by Duane Michals, and Keith Richards cavorting topless through a Belle Epoque mansion.
“It’s about the freedom for men to be exactly who you are. I think this is a moment when men are thinking about themselves. After centuries of rules, men maybe in these [last] three decades are trying to express themselves,” Piccioli added, by way of explanation.
For the high-end Valentino customer, the real symptom of rebellion may be the shedding of the business suit in favor of a more casual look. Zip-up tops underpinned most of the looks, lending a laid-back vibe to even the most luxurious of intarsia cashmere coats and capes.
Shirts and ties were banished in favor of sweaters in a steady palette of dark gray, navy and black, broken up with splashes of acid yellow, orange and burgundy. Messenger bags were clasped under one arm like clutches.
There was a chic version of a track pant, its tone-on-tone racing stripes bridging into tuxedo territory, or a cigarette pant, cropped to show off the chunky white sneakers that accompanied most of the looks.
For those truly casual moments, Piccioli offered down jackets created in collaboration with Moncler. The most striking, a glossy black coat lined in fire engine red, was printed with an oversize version of the VLTN logo he introduced last season.
The designer said that while he wasn’t thinking specifically about the groundswell of protest against sexual harassment in Hollywood and elsewhere, it was his job to reflect current events in his collections.
“I think men have to think about the idea of power and the idea of fragility. I think that a strong man is not the one who shows off his power, but someone who is able to show his inner side, his romantic side, also his vulnerability, why not?” he concluded.