Valentino’s Fall/Winter 2021 mood board was a nod to the sexy, sophisticated, and nuanced life of culture’s modern vanguard. Images of iconic Lucio Fontana artworks appeared alongside black-and-white photographs of women in fishnet tights, sheer tops, mini dresses, and tiny trousers only.
Mixed in were portraits of punks in tank tops and chains, Mohawks and jean jackets, New Hearts tops and berets. And every other square, our eyes were caught by the regal reality of socialites and the elite dining in tuxedos, lounging in robes, and prancing near a private waterscape. The contrast, riveting and intoxicating, felt oddly familiar.
Maybe that’s because our recent past—pre-pandemic and full of life—was dotted daily with jaunts around town in electrifying fashion. Or maybe it’s because scenes—like punk-era in London, high fashion in Paris, and street art in New York—aren’t confined to one place or one time anymore. Or quite possibly it’s due to how we want to feel today in advance of tomorrow; free to explore, free to express, free to be inspired and dress however we please.
More concise and deliberate, that rebellion was seen in a fashion presentation yesterday in Milan by Valentino. The brand’s creative director, Pierpaolo Piccioli, harnessed the angst, the fear, and the freedom of people around the globe today for a collection that praised personality. Aptly named the “Valentino Act Collection,” it was presented at the historic Piccolo Teatro di Milano – Teatro d’Europa. Closed now due to COVID-19, yet opened just for the show, the space has embodied a rebellious spirit from the start, being the first public theater in Italy.
We saw this at first through ultra-short hemlines, heightened without hesitation. Nearly everything was lifted—from women’s pleated skirts and men’s trousers to jackets that now are not jackets, but capes. Evening dresses with panels of rich fabric were held together by ribbons or near-invisible stitching. Rather than full skirts, trains, and ruffles that sweep the guest seats, we’re now caught in the romance of a tiny trail of sheer fabric draping down the back of a black transparent dress. Primarily black and white, like the portraits in the mood board, we see bits of color flash from the stage in gold, grey, beige, and plum.
The theater was reignited with British singer Cosima perform Nothing Compares to You, Somewhere, and Wishing on a Star with the Orchestra Sinfonica di Milano Giuseppe Verdi. It left us looking forward to the next act—for Piccolo Teatro, Valentino, and us all.