“Romancity” reads the title of the inspiration book Valentino’s Pierpaolo Piccioli brought with him from Rome for his resort presentation in New York on Wednesday evening. Intentional or not, it’s a multitiered title if ever there was one (and for a resort collection, no less). Piccioli, who loves to tout Valentino’s identity as a Roman couture house, photographed his look book at a lush garden in the center of the Eternal City, and drew inspiration from its voluptuous chic past.
Yet the title could be dissected into Romance City, and romance Gotham the designer did for WWD’s shoot, directing his models out to the Fifth Avenue border of Central Park, where nature and asphalt beautifully coexist, and where, urban Uber obsession aside, yellow taxis still deliver their iconic manufactured sunshine.
As for his Roman inspiration, Piccioli cited “the fantasy of Seventies extravagance…the moment before decadence.” He interpreted that moment in an exuberant lineup that at times wore the decade’s references obviously, including in some looks derived from specific pieces done by the house founder. Piccioli worked from photos and drawings rather than from the actual archival items. That way, he said, he achieves “a dream of the original” rather than a replica. It all made for a bold collection in which Piccioli tempered the pre-decadence flamboyance with a casual attitude. Case in point: a pair of models working La Liz-worthy feathered tunic-and-pajama looks, but with flat sandals and undone hair.
With every collection Piccioli seeks to retain what he calls “the values of couture,” but express them in a way that makes sense for today. For ready-to-wear, that sometimes means tempering grand silhouettes, as he did with dramatic A-shaped coats and dresses, and sometimes, reimagining a sportswear classic — a rumpled anorak cut with slyly disguised haute-inspired exaggeration. Ultimately, however, this was a collection of wardrobe-building pieces, so along with the flair of a billowing berry taffeta blouse and full purple skirt with a waft of gypsy came a pristine pleated white shirtdress, zhushed up with bodice ruffle, a precision-tailored black tailored coat with a long, stemmed pink flower appliqué running down its length, and fabulous knits that ranged from an intricately wrought pointelle dress to a long, casual Aran-knitted cape, the epitome of cozy, casual chic.
Much of it was shown with those flat sandals or low-heeled boots, great for real-world getting around, but glammed up in vibrant purple and blue suede, or with metal snake decorations. Romancing the city, indeed.