WORDS Kara Douglas
Valentino presented an intensely refreshing take on classicality with their latest collection at Paris Fashion Week Mens. The AW17 collection deconstructed the dynamics of the timeless “gentlemen," as the brand explored the more “gentle” side of the menswear persona. The traditional concept of smart masculine clothing was softened at the seams as Pierpaolo Piccioli’s models took to the runway in duffle coats, suede collared jackets and knitwear cut from bright pastel fabrics. Capes were reconstructed to be lengthier as they flowed in synchronization with loose fitting woolen trousers and delicate bow ties peeking out from under shirt collars, adding subtle hints of femininity to a rather traditional ensemble. Valentino finished every look with trainers and baseball hats to draw out the casual undercurrents in the collection, thus highlighting each look with a charming, relaxed form.
Piccioli harnessed the uncertainties surrounding the political climate that remain to sit heavy and prominent at the forefront of our minds and explored it within his designs, the motifs of his pieces reading “Beauty is a birthright reclaim your heritage” and “It seemed to be the end until the next beginning." These slogans were knitted into vibrant jumpers and printed across hats and coats, portraying soft reassuring messages to the audience in a formidably juxtaposing fashion as Jamie Reid’s iconically harsh and ransom-like fonts intensified the anarchistic sense of individuality the slogans conveyed. Piccioli's and Reid’s collaboration is one of Reid’s first since his heydays of Punk, when his artwork was displayed in Westwood’s stores and his lettering adorned the clothing of Sex Pistol’s frontman Johnny Rotten and their album artwork. The combination of Reid’s art and Piccioli’s rather reserved, uniform designs injected the collection with an infectious independent identity that celebrated the free-spirited sentiments of the Punk era. Valentino AW17 is yet another deliciously exciting example of the prodigal conception that occurs when the realms of music, art and fashion collide.