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No formal pre-fall press session for Valentino this time around; Pierpaolo Piccioli’s schedule wouldn’t permit one. After creating a separate couture collection that he showed in Beijing last month, and with his January men’s and couture shows right around the corner, sandwiching in a trip to Gotham wasn’t in the cards. Instead, Piccioli shot his look book in Rome, allowing the photos to stand in for in-person perusal.

Piccioli’s design approach remained constant: the celebration of couture values within a modern, real-life context. He focused this collection on wardrobe-building in a manner that subverted haute’s historical subdivisions — day, cocktail, evening — to keep the concept current with the realities of the way women dress today, mixing, breaking down, layering up and ultimately blurring boundaries between day and night. “I wanted to twist the idea of wardrobe as perceived in couture, to reference the idea of dressing for ‘occasions’ but creating a wardrobe which is contemporary,” he said. “I didn’t want to treat the past as something heavy and not part of the present.”

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As always, Piccioli did so by exploring the house’s rich history and then having his way with it. Here, he achieved a deft fusion of flamboyance and ease, the former in bold colors and patterns, and the latter, in shapes that felt relaxed even when tailored, and especially in the irreverent attitude his models projected. From the bountiful archive Piccioli here mined four motifs: blue delft from a 1968 couture collection; geometric prints from the Seventies; flashy Eighties derivations and chic tailoring, long a hallmark of the house.

Valentino Pre-Fall 2020

60 Photos 

If it sounds like the makings of a diverse lineup, it was, with countless variations of silhouette, and especially of mood. If one aspect of inclusiveness is to offer clothes that appeal to a broad range of women, Piccioli nailed the construct, offering looks that project pure refinement (ankle-length high-neck dress with a blown-up delft pattern on white); jaunty sportif (those geometric knits); cheeky sensuality (dotted balloon-skirted minidress with puffed sleeves). Throughout, many looks combined elements of day and night, in a manner that radiated charm and confidence.

Of course, not every occasion calls for blurred boundaries. Piccioli showed numerous statement gowns, including a bejeweled tiered tulle beauty and another with crystal-embroidered beading on a barely there silk base. Because some events call for high glamour in sharp focus.

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