by Alex R. Travers
Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli were back at it again, this time with their Fall 2014 collection for men. The stunning Classical venue (Hôtel Salomon de Rothschild) whose runway was laid with patchwork carpeting set the stage for Valentino’s show today, which opened with some smart pieces: double-faced cashmere overcoats, jersey knitwear, rolled-up denims, monk strap shoes, leather tote bags, white sneakers. They will all be hits. Guaranteed.
But the plot thickened when a few furs with the same patch-like patterns of the “rugway” paraded down the narrow corridor. Or when Chiuri and Piccioli showed coats embossed with owls, the same wide-eyed predators we spotted at the Pre-Fall ’14 presentation for women. Using the thread of that story line, the designers weaved a striking collection that touched a tactile chord. The leather lapels and velvet collars on jackets, for example, were a clever interplay on rich textures, and the mixing and matching of different wools and patterns on a mid-length coat was the perfect deconstructive underpinning to a luxe garment that came together spectacularly.
The Valentino man took on the role of maritime explorer, too. He navigated the high runway in intarsia-knit sweaters with images of ships (Maria’s Santa María and Piccioli’s Pinta) and in peacoats with gold buttons. The knits and coats were top tier—the designers, as usual, inserted magical elements of couture-like glamour into their ready-to-wear pieces—but it was the suiting that left the deepest impression. One example came in herringbone with a camouflage print. It was memorable. But the final look—a suit the color of the glowing midnight sky grounded by dark oxfords with lug soles—was mesmerizing. In fact, Piccioli wore it when he took his bow. It was an ending you almost saw coming, yet it still felt right.