Valentino has always been known for its classic elegance, blending its Roman grandeur with a craft that fits right into Paris. Pierpaolo Piccioli has taken these qualities into the 21st century using streetwear motifs, inclusive casting, and that tiny bag that Lizzo carried to the AMAs. So it was no surprise when the Valentino Men's Fall 2020 collection, which showed today in Paris, showed a range of tailored pieces that felt ready to effortlessly transition from a sophisticated get-together to the street, mixing sharp and soft silhouettes while using floral graphics and capes to craft a modern vision of menswear fit for 2020.
"With this collection I tried to change the perception of the traditional definition of tailoring, offering a new idea," said Piccioli of the new collection. "[We did this] By dismissing the idea of formalwear as a uniform but making it more sensitive and romantic."
What was an exciting surprise was FKA Twigs' performance at the show. Wrapped in an immaculate cloud of crystals while performing songs from her new album Magdalene, the musician and style icon added an extra degree of magic to the sensual designs. The venue, Galerie Courbe of the Grand Palais, took inspiration from concert halls with its protruding stage, keeping with the elegant mood and allowing for the entire audience to have a great view of Twigs as models paraded in front of her.
Every detail of the show aimed to add to Picciol's theme of the unexpected. "How [do you wear] a suit [to] a concert?" the designer inquired. "You have to change your perspective and take away some formalities from the formal." Behind the scenes, mood boards held the portraits of Amoako Boafo exploring how to convey the new idea of masculinity, which in his vision, should aim free and not lend itself to stereotypes.
"Self-expression is the dominant approach of fashion today," Piccioli said of how his concept fits in conversation with general trends. "Right now, there is this great debate about the end of streetwear and the return to a certain idea of formality. I believe that streetwear is simply not finished. I think the formal has evolved by eliminating the bossiness that has always characterized it. Men have changed, and we are freer to reveal [our] emotions. It is all a game of perspectives at a time when these two worlds do not fight, but coexist." Bringing Valentino's romanticism to more traditional tailoring and menswear pieces, Piccioli creates fluid magic, finding the perfect balance between power and emotion to display that neither is inherently masculine or feminine; instead, all of humanity harbors some of both.
"It is streetwear [at a new height]," Piccioli proclaimed. "It is normal to customize and make a suit unique. The new approach is to apply the same thought to sportswear and urban style." This highbrow reinterpretation of streetwear was visible in the urban outerwear, born from assemblies of different fabrics for a product far more effective than the sum of its parts. Jackets combining a refined bouclé with eco-leather seemed set to live in between the street and the atelier.
Key collaborations in the show were logo sneakers designed alongside Japanese brand Onitsuka Tiger, as well as pieces decorated with the evocative works of Melanie Matranga. Unconventional writing featured on T-shirts, elevated from text to decoration whether it was woven with straw jacquard on a trench coat or embroidered in black on immaculate cotton. "This artist uses words as messages of love," Piccioli said of Matranga's contributions. "They are proclamations. Posters of modernity that enter the formal vocabulary from a T-shirt."
The end of the show introduced a play on eveningwear, and three-dimensional embroidery from the atelier displayed a crossover into couture—something definitely on Piccioli's mind as he's been simultaneously preparing for Valentino's next haute couture show, which happens a week from today. Keeping his focus on the unexpected throughout the show, the designer offered his contribution to the new era of menswear he sees so clearly. See all the looks from the Valentino Fall 2020 Men's collection below.