With Menswear Debut, Valentino Channels La Dolce Vita



Pitti Uomo is the perennial primo rendezvous of the international menswear fashion calendar for Fall/Winter 2012/13, which will careen from Florence to Milan, Paris, and New York, where it collides—with the start of the women’s shows. Pitti is always packed with a rumba line of events, from runway shows and special presentations to art-meets-fashion happenings. The first big one of the four-day Pitti was last night’s Valentino men’s show, the premiere for the storied Roman house, now under the creative direction of Valentino Garavani’s former right hands Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli.

Valentino, who will turn 80 this year, made his debut at a show in Florence in 1962 at the Pitti Palace. He was an overnight success, and orders for his delicate couture style haven’t stopped since.

Held at the mind-boggling late Baroque Palazzo Corsini, which overlooks the Arno river, last night’s show drew a mixed crowd of elegant Florentines and the usual menswear contingent, themselves appearing to have adopted a style inspired by eclectic Tyrollean ski instructors circa 1960. Staged in a series of rooms with ceilings covered in paintings, the backdrop was a sparkling high-tech wall of pointillist lights, which once the models appeared, projected a kind of abstract film of men filing in fashion formation. Cropped, precise, stiff, and spare, Chiuri and Piccioli kept to a dark navy blue/black and brown palette in classic shapes for this collection, which was elegant, but also quite young. Jackets are boxy and cropped and the coats look almost shrunken, some in a mix of rib-textured knit and thick wools.

Backstage after the show, Chirui said that the inspiration was the heyday of Italian cinema in Rome’s Dolce Vita ’60s. “We thought of films by directors like Michelangelo Antonioni and Federico Fellini when men were dressed in clean, perfect shapes,” she said. “We love the timeless style of Marcello Mastroianni and Antonioni’s feeling in a film like La Notte,” added Piccioli. The 1961 classic stars Mastroianni and Jeanne Moreau as a couple who parties through the night and flirts right and left until dawn.