Valentino has truly been having a moment throughout the past few seasons. Creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli has produced unapologetically maximalist collections that have become the highlight of couture week, all while showing ready-to-wear that mixes the Italian house's modern glamour with streetwear touches (not to mention the tiny bag that Lizzo carried to the AMAs). But even the most celebrated designers need to keep evolving, and that's just what Piccioli has been working to do throughout the start of 2020.
Back in January, Valentino showed two notable collections: a more romantic vision of the house's typically street-ready menswear (featuring an FKA Twigs performance), and a couture collection that was a little more understated than seasons past, but still captivated with the way it brought eclectic nostalgia and expressive styling to its glamorous eveningwear. So it was only natural that Valentino Fall 2020 ready-to-wear would follow suit, and what better soundtrack to help start a new era than Billie Eilish? While the 18-year-old talent did not perform live, her songs mixed with the sounds of a live orchestra to accompany a darker, more provocative take on Piccioli's breathtaking glamour.
Fans of Valentino might remember how last season opened with a series of white looks, and this time, Piccioli went in the opposite direction, starting off with 25 black ensembles, in addition to several more sprinkled throughout the rest of the show. Other motifs throughout included leather, see-through fabrics, and high slits, all of which added a bold energy to the elegant dresses and modern tailoring that comprised the collection. The opera glove trend was in full swing (it's worth noting that Piccioli was also experimenting with this during couture), and the house's signature red was often found on accessories that brought pops of color to a mostly dark collection. Several evening looks, especially towards the end, also featured shimmering fabrics, and many bags were in a woven style—one might draw connections between Valentino Fall 2020 and last week's Bottega Veneta show, which also seemed to be envisioning a sensual new era.
The use of Eilish's music really seemed to fit the Fall 2020 collection, as her sound is quietly rebellious—her voice is soft and beautiful, but it finds a haunting quality amidst the jarring sound effects and mature lyrics that compose the songs she creates alongside brother Finneas. In a similar vein, Piccioli was playing upon kinky themes with his color scheme and provocative cuts, but it still stuck to the house's modern elegance with delicate materials, embroidery, and captivating silhouettes. While we anticipate that Eilish is more likely to rock some oversized pieces from the new menswear collection if future collaborations are in the works, her hits audibly displayed the turning point Valentino has taken this year. There's something about a song like "all the good girls go to hell" or "ilomilo" playing through your headphones that provides internal confidence, and in a show that featured models of a range of sizes, backgrounds, and genders all embodying the same cool energy, this implicit message was the perfect fit.