Men in skirts are not a provocation, according to Pierpaolo Piccioli — they telegraph freedom.
The aim of Valentino’s creative director is to leave “traditional machismo” behind, but at the same time, he makes a point of staying away from any “aesthetic dictatorship.”
“It’s very important to me to redefine the masculine identity,” said Piccioli after the show, held in the courtyard of Milan’s Statale University. “It should not follow the rules of society or the perfection associated with success. Society relegates men in [pre-determined] boxes because it’s easier, but the real power is to be free, even showing some fragility while being resilient.”
Piccioli revisited the traditional menswear codes, wishing “to avoid any uproar,” and in this vein, the Valentino man has no qualms about wearing a flowing silk coat embellished with a floral pattern, or an emerald green jacket embroidered with flowers and sequins. Any shade of pink is no longer a taboo, nor is a skirt worn under a perfectly tailored blazer.
“The collection is anchored in the traditional rules of tailoring, once a symbol of power and success, but rendered contemporary, with shorter pants or skirts, as an expression of individuality,” said Piccioli, who, to be fair, has long been questioning conventions with his designs, shifting the brand from a concept of lifestyle to that of a community.
The designer underscored that it’s not necessary to run away from pre-defined rules, and that they can actually be overturned even in an imperceptible way. Case in point, an embroidered flower can replace a tie or, placed on a buttonhole, is reminiscent of a gentleman’s etiquette of yore.
The double cotton jacket and shorts combo in cream with several embroidered flowers in the same shade was simply beautiful. Several looks featured oversize, stylized poppy flowers and they were spot on — and genderless to boot. Piccioli has been perfecting layering and the juxtaposition of different colors — azure and burgundy one example — and the palette in the collection was mouthwatering.
The shorts and skirts, as well as the breezy silk tops and baggy pants, felt right under the day’s scorching sun, as models walked on a white platform in the courtyard of the storied institution to a live performance of D4vd.
With the invitation to the show, the designer sent out a book by Hanya Yanagihara, “ A Little Life,” and he spelled out a few quotes from the author on a black blazer and on a denim coat. One in particular read, “We are so old, we have become young again.”
“The past can be part of the present,” explained Piccioli, also referring to the decision to show in Milan, which is a reflection of the past, as founder Valentino Garavani staged his first menswear show in the city in 1985. “Time is a tool to review things, every day you can change your mind.”
Time was also a theme inherent in another inspiration — the Japanese concept of Kintsugi, which honors imperfection and repair. This translated into a denim coat with visible stitches on the neckline, for example.
“I realize not everybody will understand my style, but that’s cool. It would be too easy otherwise, and I like to stir the conversation,” he concluded.