If there were any doubts that Pierpaolo Piccioli could go it alone at the helm of Valentino they were quickly and resolutely shelved the minute Look 1 hit the runway. The designer’s line-up was heralded by the fashion world as the most beautiful Valentino collection of recent years, and that’s saying a lot considering Piccioli’s output with his former co-collaborator of nearly 20 years, Maria Grazia Chiuri, was almost always a resounding success both commercially and editorially.
With Chiuri’s critically-acclaimed debut at Dior the previous day (with the support of her ex-partner on the front row) Piccioli was free to tout his first solo line-up as "a new beginning". Perhaps the biggest novelty was the level of variety in the looks, where before the duo would pick a theme and run with it in the strictest sense, Piccioli’s line-up had a poetic fluidity about it, from the pink, red and black maxi gowns that opened the show to the tunic-and-palazzo-pants combos that were peppered throughout the collection as chic and viable daywear options. In fact, on top of being incredibly easy on the eye, every piece was seriously wearable: a crisp white shirt; a belted trench coat; myriad a flattering maxi dress; mid-heeled strappy sandals with ribbon ties; cross body bags in eye-popping hues – the list went on and on.
Pink in all its shades dominated the colour palette, from the cyclamen brocade on a coat to the petal pink that was sliced into the pleats of red midi dresses to the tiers of jewelled chiffon that cascaded down the lengths of the gowns that closed the show. Piccioli also scored major brownie points by teaming up with the Zandra Rhodes for the nature-inspired prints that graced several looks. The standing ovation was well and truly deserved.
"Valentino was my highlight of the week; Piccioli delivered an absolutely mesmerising collection – a continuation of his stunning dresses, flowing gowns, and the usual dusting of intricately embroidered tulle, however, stepped up several notches. Gone were any tricky styles and stiff fabrics, replaced with beautiful Zandra Rhodes silk prints in every shade of pink, and a gown for every possible occasion. Piccioli managed to pretty much hit every trend of the season in one show – pink as the new black; girly, feminine and romantic dressing; slouchy nonchalance; trench coats everywhere; and easy layering," said Helen David, Harrods Chief Merchant, of the show.