It is Monday morning, the last day of Milan’s Fashion Week, and out of nowhere there it is — a resort collection of Valentino, Alessandro’s first. Now for those who don’t keep an eye on the calendar, it is the same day Gucci has its show. I’m not going to say anything else, just that. 

Only two months in, Valentino’s new creative director said there is no time to waste. The presentation of 171 ready-to-wear looks is clear evidence. I mean after all, Alessandro’s pivotal first collection at Gucci that changed the way we perceive gender in fashion was put together in just a couple of weeks.

Coming back to the ‘Avant les Débuts’ collection, though. For those of you who say it looks like Gucci — no, it looks like Alessandro. I expected nothing else but ruffles on embroidery on prints on jewelry, because in his world, the more is more. During the impromptu Zoom meeting with some editors Michele revealed he’d been doing a deep dive into Valentino’s archive, which sparked the beginning of this whole collection. In his own words, “I’ve been seduced by that place. I’m in love with it.”

As Alessandro pointed out, “Valentino was never a minimalist, rather a maximalist, even in the 70s when he was at his most streamlined.” But unlike his predecessor, Pierpaolo Piccioli, who focused on expressing the spirit of Valentino primarily through elevated silhouettes, Alessandro approached this task in his own spirit. Though he is not referencing one specific collection, he mentioned that some inspiration was drawn from 1968 Sfilata Bianca. But there are other undeniable elements like the 70’s feminine defining hippy chic (at least for Valentino) or 80’s softness and sense of sophistication. 

Put that all together and one might be expecting a fashion catastrophe but not under Alessandro’s watch. Something he mastered during Gucci times was his complex composition. I believe this just allows him to mix together so many things but see the red thread in all his does. And ultimately, we will all be eating it up from the palm of his hand. 

Alessandro’s non-willingness to compromise on beauty of his aesthetic is refreshing. Where other designers tone down and focus on commercially driven collections, Michele knows he’s creating something beyond ‘the things we wear’, and this realisation flues everything he does.

I feel like my biggest question is, what is going to happen next? In most cases, when a new creative director is appointed, the collections go as followed: the first one is very much like the designer and not like a brand, the second one (as a response to the criticism) is very much like the brand to the point there’s no visibility of the designer, and only from the third collection onwards we get to see the some balance between those two. But with Alessandro? I honestly don’t know how he can make himself get to that second step of becoming invisible. Is that a good or bad thing? I think we will have to wait to see, but regardless, I am excited!

all images: curtesy of vogue.com