At this point, it's a cliché to point out that we are living in unprecedented times, or that the retail market has been incredibly tough for everyone, let alone luxury brands, in 2020. But, facts are facts: The Covid-19 crisis has wreaked havoc on everyone's bottom lines, leaving brands scrambling for solutions to fix a fairly broken system.
One way of making up for lost revenue? Pushing accessories, which famously carry better profit margins and provide easier entry points than ready-to-wear, in front of customers' eyes. That seems to be the tack Valentino has taken of late. The brand has seen great success with the Atelier 03 Rose Edition bag, which sparked off global waiting lists when it launched earlier this summer; perhaps that's why the leather petals cropped up on the Spring 2021 runway, this time sprinkled across sandals and woven across netted handbags. As one of the "codes" of the house, it even inspired the floral-packed set — this time, a factory in Milan instead of a spare white tent in Paris.
But when it comes to accessories, for Valentino, the Rockstud is still king. That one tiny pyramid shape has likely made the brand millions, if not billions, of dollars since it first hit the scene on the Fall 2010 runway, splashed across everything from strappy sandals to giant handbags. And while the studded stilettos may no longer be the street style mainstay they once were, there's no question that the style has stayed popular with customers who collect them in every new color way and format.
So it only seems right that, a decade into its dominance and in the midst of a challenging retail scene, creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli would dust off the Rockstud and breathe new life into it. For Spring 2021, the proportions are blown out, the studs clocking in around an inch and dotted across modern top handle bags and decidedly practical pointed-toe flats. Putting the fan-favorite Rockstud front and center — quite literally, in the case of some models holding the bags to their chests — seems like a smart bet for Valentino in a shaky luxury market.
And speaking of smart bets, included in the collection is a collaboration with American denim giant Levi's. Working with the iconic 1969 517 boot cut jeans style for both men and women, Piccioli paired the looks with voluminous, sheer ruffled blouses and belts buckled with the giant V symbol — another big accessory push. While these will surely cost more than your average vintage Levi's, Valentino customers accustomed to a more casual pandemic lifestyle will no doubt appreciate having such a cool option in their wardrobe arsenal come spring.
As intelligent as all these commercial moves are, it wouldn't be a Valentino show without Piccioli's jaw-dropping prints, color play and near-couture level creations, which are all still present, proving it's possible to dream while still keeping grounded in reality. Even the most formal of looks take on a casual feel, with chiffon red gowns or sequin, fringed dresses taking on the style of (extremely) elevated loungewear. Perhaps not every client will be looking for a silky, floral-printed cape next season, but those who will have some great options here, even if its just for swanning about at home.
For the rest of us, there are oversized, menswear shirting options in highlighter-bright shades, sequined turtlenecks tucked into sharply-tailored khakis and sporty separates in black and white laser-cut laces. The deftness with which Piccioli weaves the casual and the formal, the fantasy with the practical, only further cements him as one of the most talented designers of our time.
See the complete Valentino Spring 2021 collection in the gallery below:
Homepage photo: Imaxtree