We just got an insider’s view of pre-fall 2018, and it’s gorgeous! This week, Dandelion Chandelier was invited to attend the preview of Valentino’s Pre-Fall 2018 collection, held in New York City at the lovely Institute of Fine Arts. The classical mansion is in the heart of the elegant Upper East Side. But this collection has a distinctly cool downtown vibe. It feels fun, fresh and femme — and we think it’s going to fly out the door.
When we last received an invitation from Creative Director Pierpaolo Piccolo, it was to witness the birth of his VLTN Resort collection. With it, he took the Valentino brand into the buzzy world of athletic-inspired clothing and relaxed, slouchy silhouettes. There were track suits, sporty dresses, even black basketballs with a white VLTN logo.
In less talented hands, this might have been a disaster. Valentino’s heritage is refined, ladylike, and almost regal in its simplicity and purity of line — they’re clothes for romantics. The VLTN fabrics and silhouettes were a marked departure, which for a heritage brand can sometimes result in disaster (we’re looking at you, Brioni, Metallica era). Happily, in this case, the time in the gym was just what the brand needed. The iconic items in the resort 2018 collection flew out the door, and were seen being worn by style leaders – including the Queen herself, Beyoncé.
As we reported at the time, we loved it. We bought one of the ruby-red “track dresses” from the advertising campaign, and one of the new RockStud Spike bags with white studs and hardware. It was a moment, and we wanted to have a piece of it. Who knew how long it might last?
Having now seen pre-fall 2018, we are feeling extremely clever and lucky to have hitched a ride on this VLTN train at the first opportunity. The direction established in resort 2018 is clearly present in the new pre-fall collection, with a number of other intriguing new elements. Here are 10 things to know about Valentino Pre-Fall 2018:
1. The new VLTN logo is now present in many interesting incarnations, and lots of the new pieces will pair perfectly with those from the resort delivery. The soon-to-be-iconic VLTN logo is now present on sleek structured handbags and totes, as well as adorable small cross-body bags. There’s an extremely clever “paper shopping bag” made of leather that comes in black and white versions. VLTN is also imprinted on the back of a glamorous white fur coat, a black puffer jacket, and a long white fur stole. And also on a pair of cool jeweled cuffs – one black and one white. Our sales associate Nina explains that going forward these four letters will be seen only in black or white, and they’ll form a new brand iconography for a new era. We think it really works.
2. For fall, the resort color story is evolving, but not changing abruptly — the vibrant emerald green of the prior delivery is still a major player, along with black and ruby red (it is Valentino, after all). The summer cerulean blue has been replaced with a gorgeous electric blue, and the golf-course grass-green hue has taken a holiday, replaced with an earthy brown that plays extremely well with black. There’s a new, noisy neon pink, but the pale pink is still present, and there’s even a little pop of neon yellow. The color palette signals the mood, and you guessed it: this an upbeat collection: optimistic, flirtatious, and chill. Fall can cause a collection to take a turn for the serious, or even the overly dramatic or melancholy. This collection brings that happy autumnal sense of “back to school” — back to exploration, discovery, and camaraderie. Back to being excited, but not to being stressed out.
3. The big new news is that a bestiary has been composed for this collection. Previously known for butterflies, the pre-fall delivery takes the house of Valentino deep into the jungle and into mythology, with prints based on leopards, tigers, dragons and snakes. While the leopard spots play pretty much as one might expect, the tiger’s eyes are a striking blue and yellow, and they pop up mysteriously in interesting places on bags, coats and dresses. The dragon is displayed in ornate gold, and the snake is generally rendered in deepest ebony. There are new cats-eye sunglasses, natch, to pair with the feline prints. When you see tigers, dragons and serpents on a luxury fashion item, your mind will surely immediately think of Gucci. But this is not a copy-cat appropriation from Valentino’s fellow Italian brand. It turns out that in the Valentino archive, there are historical references to snakes, tigers and dragons. The brand is just reclaiming its serpentine ancestry.
4. Interestingly, there are also polka dot prints on a number of items – that reminded us of another Italian brand, Dolce & Gabbana. Since Dolce seems to have moved on to playing cards, cocktails, fruit and other over-the-top prints, we’re kind of glad that the polka dots are back in the luxury apparel space, and being deployed by a safe pair of hands.
5. The array of fabrics is appropriately much broader as the season changes from spring-summer to pre-fall, and there is more of everything in this collection than there has been in the past: you’ll find leather, fur and velvet on coats and bags, along with the occasional marabou feather.
6. Subtle new interpretations of the RockStud honor the heritage of these iconic bags and shoes, but pull the look forward in important ways. The bags are gorgeous, and the new stud pattern is just different enough – it might inspire you to want a new bag for your collection, but you won’t feel like a dope if you keep wearing the ones you already have.
7. The trend toward nonchalant evening looks rolls on — there are couple of sensational jumpsuits that from a distance appear to be traditional evening gowns. There are also black-tie ready embellished shorts and blazers for those with the legs and the confidence to pull them off.
8. Embellishment is much more prevalent. Several of the looks preview the holidays with sparkle and shine — three RockStud bags sport highly-embellished hearts, butterflies and snakes. Without question, some of the more embellished looks will remind you of Gucci’s maximalism. At Valentino, they’re not quite as extreme, and they’re a bit more refined — some might say more sophisticated, especially the evening gowns. With softly muted colors and vivid embellishment, these are lovely, sparkly, verdant works of art. We love the ability to mash up and combine a number of different elements that somehow mysteriously work: the VLTN pieces tend toward minimalism, but they’re strong enough to pair with the more maximalist pieces. The VLTN bags can be tossed on with a fur coat, a track suit, an embellished mini-dress or all of the above. You can dial the looks up and down, which is a nice option to have.
9. The brand has announced a collaboration with Moncler on a limited edition of puffer jackets bearing the new tiger motif. They come in multiple colors — neon pink, neon green, and pale pink. If the reaction we got to our Instagram post yesterday is any indication, we predict that these puffers are going sell out before most people will even have a chance to see them. They’re statement coats that people will absolutely love.
10. The accessories offerings are more varied than what we’ve seen in the past. The boots are quite reminiscent of Saint Laurent’s from last fall: slouchy, bedazzled and black (although they also come in electric blue and neon pink). There are many new handbags, including little clutches that are hard-sided and made of metal that has been painted in many cases with the tiger or serpent motif. There were a small number of new sneakers on display, embellished and ready for a night out under the stars.
After all of that, what truly stuck out in our minds? The purity of the colors – they’re like jewels. The detailed hand work and embellishment. The sense of movement and freedom, even in items like an embellished leather coat, which could have been horribly heavy and stiff. The glamorous lightness of the puffers, which cocoon you in loveliness, but are surprisingly lightweight. The proportions and the femininity feel just right to us. We’d describe the vibe as confident, urbane, refined but not overly serious – very of the moment, and with more optionality than what we’ve seen from many other collections.
Nicely played, Valentino. Let’s hope by the time we get to fall, we’ll all be feeling exactly the way this new collection feels.
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