Is this athletic wear? Are these party clothes? Can I wear them to the office? Or to the gym? Yes, yes, yes and yes – at least in a manner of speaking. Last week, Valentino launched a 4-weeks-only pop-up shop on Spring Street in SoHo to showcase its latest resort collection. And it’s unlike anything we’ve ever seen from the house of Valentino. We were invited to the “VIC” (that’s Very Important Client, thank you very much) event last Thursday, so we got to see it firsthand. And we love it. It’s luxury sportswear with a more literal take than usual – fresh, vibrant, energizing colors; crisp silhouettes; an urban sensibility; and an explicit nod to sports – especially basketball and boxing. The ad campaign was shot on a basketball court, with the models shooting hoops. The vibe of the collection is femme and macho, practical and whimsical, relaxed and hard-charging. The pieces are smartly-priced, and as a result they’re flying out the door. You should get yourself to the pop-up store before it closes – it’s a guaranteed good time. Here’s our report (you can see many images at #VLTN).
Walking into the SoHo pop-up feels a bit like walking into the flagship Nike and Adidas stores in Manhattan: the first thing you see is a huge black metal hopper filled with black Spalding basketballs emblazoned with the VLTN logo in white block letters (they can be yours for $145 each, and they only come in black). Deeper into the store, the idea is repeated on baseball caps, T-shirts, decals, and a huge black punching bag. Our top-notch long-time sales associate Nina showed us around, and here are some of the things that stuck in our minds as truly new and interesting.
In our view, the showpiece offerings are:
- The “Beyoncé” red coat dress. This tea-length, A-line, jewel-red “techno jersey dress” with white top-stitching and zippers and a detachable hood can be worn as a dress, a coat, or a jacket. It works with towering high heels of any type, as well as with skinny black leather pants. And Beyoncé wore it! What else do you need to know? The fabric is stretchy and pliant, so it’s incredibly comfortable and chic. It’s lightweight enough to wear three seasons of the year, even in New York, indoors or out. There’s a green version that is much shorter, making it feel younger and sportier. We were told that the house made very few of the red ones, so get them while you can. The red one is $3,980, and the green one is $3,275.
- The sock-stiletto-sandals. The sock-boot trend rolls on for resort, with brilliant green, red and black versions of stiletto sandals, some with attached socks and some without (the sandals are $895, and the socks are $150 when sold separately).
- The bags. The updated “Free Rockstud Spike” bag continues its heroic run – this season the studs are crisp white, and the color palette is the same brilliant array of pink, green, blue, red, black, and white as the ready-to-wear. There are badge holders ($345); flat pouches ($775); small, medium and large purses ($2,195-3,195); and duffle bags ($3,195).
- The rings. There are sets of 4 rings each that spell the words “Make,” “Love,” “Live,” and “Free.” You’re encouraged to wear a set on each hand, and the phrases you choose to create are of course, up to you ($745 per set).
The collection also includes other items, some wildly expensive and some relatively accessible: hammered satin dresses ($5,200); silk dresses with lace details ($7,850); pleated skirts ($980-1,290); viscose pullovers ($1,290); bathing suits ($490-590); earrings ($575-675); T-shirts ($350); satin track suits ($1,900 for the jackets, $1,890 for the pants); slides ($345-725) and bracelets ($195). The men’s line was not in store when we visited, but there is a men’s collection with the same aesthetic. The staff in the store is fun and fashionable and will help you style the look (seeing the pieces on them will definitely make you want to look just like them).
We admit, we succumbed to the irresistible lure of limited edition items validated by Queen Bey, and went home with one of the red coat dresses. We took it out for a spin over the weekend, and we did, in fact, feel like royalty. Or like an extremely chic Little Red Riding Hood. Which was sort of cool, actually.
This could be an interesting turning point in the world of designer fashion – when a romantic, traditional, refined brand takes to the basketball court, something new is in the air. There will pop-up stores and exclusive showings of the line in the next couple of weeks in Tokyo; at Maxfield in Los Angeles; at The Webster in Miami; in Shanghai; at Harrods in London; and in Seoul. It’s definitely worth a visit if you pass through one of those cities.
Nicely done, Valentino. You nailed it, and we hope you keep it up. We wouldn’t mind more like this.
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