Paint it blue

Pierpaolo Piccioli’s Valentino is blue sky thinking
By Barry Pierce | Fashion | 23 January 2024

When the day comes for Pierpaolo Piccioli to hand over the reigns of Valentino to whoever will be next in line, one word will keep coming up to describe his tenure – resignification. The idea of taking classic trends or colours or silhouettes and resignifying them with a whole new meaning has been Piccioli’s raison d’être at Valentino ever since he became head of the house in 2008. In the past, he has played with the codes of the house by transitioning from Valentino Garavani’s signature red to a shocking pink. In his FW24 collection, it was a vibrant shade of azure that became the star of the show.

Azure, also known as sky blue, was everywhere. The house’s logo was printed in azure, the doors of the Paris Mint where the show took place were azure, even the title of the collection — Le Ciel — is the French for sky. As is often the case, Pierpaolo really got into the philosophical significance of azure in the show notes. “Blue, an archetypal marker of masculinity, is re-assessed and reconsidered, its language reconfigured, as is the character of modern men. […] Here blue is freed, rethought, in turn echoing our transformed perception of man. Sky blue, itself emblematic of free-thinking, is both catalyst and vehicle for this examination of the meaning of men – an opening of perspectives, an expansion of horizons.”

What was clever about this collection was that Piccioli didn’t just make a load of blue outfits. Outside of maybe four or five looks, azure wasn’t the main colourway of the collection. The outfits were still classically Valentino menswear, stylish suits, skinny ties, woollen coats to die for and some very practical bags, but the azure was used mostly as a hint or as a single drop of colour on a monochrome silhouette.

Piccioli’s resignification of masculinity was presented through some traditional, heavy coats that featured decadent, brocade-like patterns; some of the bags that could have been accurately described as clutches; some hints of baby pink peeking through now and then; and an overall softer take on tailoring that created less rigid and upright outfits.

Of course, the highlight of the collection was that very last look, the magnificent azure duffel coat over a classic Valentino suit. The duffle is something that rarely makes its way to the runway, perhaps because it doesn’t have much give in terms of its identity, a duffel will always just look like a duffel. So, what can Pierpaolo do with that? Keep the codes and paint it blue. In other words, resignify.

GALLERYCatwalk images from Valentino MENS-FALL-WINTER-24