Pierpaolo Piccioli has a remedy for troubled times: His Valentino men’s show was dedicated to the dreamers — romantics, idealists and other masters of imaginary worlds.
“I started the collection with this idea of mental escape, of traveling with your mind so you have no boundaries, no real places to go but to go deeper into yourself, even to imagine worlds,” the designer said in a preview at the Valentino headquarters on Place Vendôme, where a mood board mixed travelscapes with Orientalist paintings.
He cited the example of Emilio Salgari, an armchair traveler if ever there was one. The author of more than 200 popular Italian adventure stories and novels, he barely ever left his native country.
Roger Dean, by contrast, has crisscrossed the world selling his art works on the sidelines of Yes concerts. His fantasy landscapes grace the covers of many of the band’s albums, including “Fragile,” “Relayer” and “The Ladder.”
They provided the basis for the psychedelic-hued prints and vivid embroideries that appeared throughout the collection. It opened with an oversize orange-and-purple shirt paired with wide-cropped pants and chunky camouflage sneakers: the Rockrunner Plus, a beefed-up offspring of the brand’s best-selling Rockrunner shoe.
It set the template for a lineup that remained true to Piccioli’s upscale sportswear aesthetic, with a mix of casual gear like chinos, djellaba-style tunics and crafty jumpers; a smattering of suit jackets, and a terrific selection of outerwear, from a sweeping blue leather coat to a silky trench with a fierce dragon print.
Sitting front row, Dean said he was “astounded” when he got the call from Valentino, though he’s used to seeing his artwork in motion. “We’ve sold two or three million T-shirts, so it’s not the first time we’ve seen it on clothes,” he noted. “Obviously, with Pierpaolo, the scale is dramatically different.”
Curiously, Piccioli opted not to include any Yes songs on his soundtrack, instead featuring three tracks by fellow prog rockers Pink Floyd, including the finale tune “Shine on You Crazy Diamond.” But the message was the same: when traditional values fly out the window, fantasy can feel like a final refuge.
“I feel that it’s important to go deeper into yourself to be free to be whoever you want to be, in a world which has no boundaries,” Piccioli said. “Freedom is still for me the most important political message.”