Valentino’s Couture Sport

Florence’s infernal temperatures were cooling slightly when Valentino took over the airy Limonaia di Zanobi del Rosso in the city’s Boboli gardens yesterday evening to present its Spring 2013 menswear collection. Without a single tie, or tucked-in shirt, wearing multi-colored running shoes from start to finish, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccoli presented their case for what Chiuri calls “living the moment.”

And what she really means by that is having it all. Sleek color and texture block blousons set up the graphic ideal in subtle browns and greens, with black contrasting soft leathers and the iridescent flash of tech fabrics. “There is a new fetish for sneakers and uniforms,” says Piccoli. But in Valentino’s suave hands, camouflage is stripped of all aggression in square, spare jackets. And beige side-stripe pants aren’t regimental. Standaway sweatshirts in bonded knits with a tempered sheen sport an acid color switch on the backside waistband; just enough to keep the eye intrigued. And what passes for a suit speaks more about Valentino’s life in the fast lane with the top down than nine to five: crisp, invisibly tailored jackets and pants worn simply with a great white shirt. A closer look reveals this shirt to be a classic white-collar button front, abbreviated like a polo to wear untucked. “Of course, we’re speaking through traditional shapes,” says Chiuri. “It’s about iconic pieces and couture,” concurs Piccoli, “we’re just using it in a new way.”