At Valentino, Black Tie Takes on a Different Meaning

Valentino asserts its clothes are not for any specific gender or any specific person. Instead, its latest modes become a frame for the identity of its wearers.

We’ve all heard of the Black Tie dress code before. At Valentino, it takes on a new meaning. It’s not just a dress code. Instead, Pierpaolo Piccioli asserts it’s a “demystification of the formal.” Smashing conventions and unhinging constraints, the house uses punk to reconstruct what formal dress looks like by reflecting on how it should feel. To put it more succinctly, Valentino asserts its clothes are not for any specific gender or any specific person. Instead, its latest modes become a frame for the identity of its wearers.

Courtesy of Valentino

We last left off with the iconic fashion house at “Unboxing Valentino.” Embellishments were reduced, and forms were relaxed to silhouettes ebbing and flowing around the body. All the while, logomania was tapped into with prints suffusing gowns, bags, shoes, and even models’ faces.

Self-expression was the name of the game as Pierpaolo Piccioli removed the artifice of constructed silhouettes to arrive at something more natural, personal even. Nude fabrics in every skin tone became a second skin on models while the occasional sequins appeared and shimmered on enchanting pleats.

Though the collection’s footwear created a great deal of drama on the runway, so did its plumes flowing graciously from its garments. Whether on sleeves, trousers, or lapels, plumes evoked an air of old-world opulence. Here’s where Piccioli made it different. Using feathers on minimalistic designs and refraining from combining them with patterned textiles, he let the movement of these garments speak for themselves.

Whether it was Valentino’s ultra-restrained employment of embellishments or its diaphanous silhouettes, something about its purified elegance felt refreshing and was right on the nose for spring.

Courtesy of Valentino

Dubbed “Black Tie,” its latest collection read a little more like “Youth in Revolt.” Punk was the name of the game—perhaps a subtle nod to Vivienne Westwood’s recent passing. Whereas “Unboxing Valentino” sought to reset the house’s hyperpigmented colors and décor, its latest collection drove at dismantling our understanding of formal dress. It was loud, edgy, and, ultimately, irresistible.

The scene Maison Valentino paints is one of grandiosity. Within the expansive Hotel Salomon Rothschild, an ominous thumping beat layered over a whispering melody so dark and sensuous it could only be the work of Massive Attack’s Robert Del Naja.

Courtesy of Valentino

Opening the show, a model sporting a black, mini halter dress topped off with a flat white collar set the tone for what was in store. While the dress initially seemed nothing out of the norm, its cheeky illusion became clear as it drew nearer. Removing the tie from the realm of accessories, the house recontextualized the iconic staple as a dress.

Why should a black tie be only an accessory? Following this train of thought, Valentino continued deconstructing and reconstructing the classic. What resulted was the ValenTie. Appearing over coats, as a long-sleeved tie-dress, or layered under a grid of red bow-ties in a shirt-dress, the menswear icon became an entry point to break conventions and blur gender boundaries.

Courtesy of Valentino

Valentino’s signature Rockstud amplified the punk spirit of the season. Arriving with attitude in industrial quantities, the classic emblem of the house was repurposed in the Valentino Garavani Rockstud23 bag and Valentino Garavani Rockstud M-Way square-shaped shoe and staple pumps.

Courtesy of Valentino

With Piccioli, one knows not what to expect. One season it’s all pink. The next, everything is nude. He can jump from the uber-glamourous to ensembles that mimic the simplistic splendor of classical sculpture. It seems the Italian fashion designer travels in polarities. One minute hot, then the next cold. This season was no different. There was no space for middle ground, even within the lengths of his ensembles. Either micro or floor-length, each of his garments was created to make a statement.

Courtesy of Valentino

However, one thing is clear, Piccioli loves his plumes. Therefore, it’s safe to say we can expect them at every turn. Ostrich feathers multiplied in tribes of outerwear, shirts, skirts, and even boots too. Adding a delicate aspect to a collection dominated by loud graphic prints and heavy contrast, his cherished plumes added that signature flair of opulent romanticism inextricable from the Valentino name.

Some may say Pierpaolo Piccioli is for the romantics. Others declare his work at Valentino thrives on the red carpet with all its frou-frou and pomp. Piccioli challenges that with Valentino’s Fall/Winter 2023 collection, in which he suggests that maybe there’s room for Valentino on the streets. Dissecting traditional vestiary concepts and turning them on their heads, he may just be fashion’s next great disruptor.


Discover More