Valentino has become a recent crowd favorite on the couture lineup, and with good reason: Pierpaolo Piccioli knows how to create a dramatic moment that will live far beyond our phone screens. And the much-anticipated fall 2022 couture show on Rome’s Spanish Steps was just that.
Dubbed “The Beginning,” the show was dedicated to Valentino’s history as a fashion house since 1959. That history was evident in the splashly looks that walked down the entirety of the Spanish Steps. With such a massive show set, it would have been easy for the clothing to get lost among the architecture, but Piccioli presented an explosion of brilliant Valentino reds, sophisticated neons, blazing blues, and enough texture to satisfy: fluffy feathers, massive rosettes, cascading columns of sheer fabrics, and roaring ruffles were all there.
Photographs by Daniele Venturelli/WireImage
All together, 102 looks came down the stairs, and a good handful of them were for men, which has become a new trend for this week’s couture shows. While the women’s looks were dazzling, the men’s felt a bit more restrained in silhouette—but not so much in color palette or technique: opera gloves, long sequined coats in midnight black and oversized blazers in Kelly green were just as impactful. This week, we’ve seen models not able to walk in their final looks because of how heavy the dresses are, while others have fallen while closing the show because of towering shoes. Here, models wore a mix of flats, stilettos, and kitten heels on the slippery steps. But the footwear felt perfectly paired and expertly executed to empower the models.
Piccioli’s approach to color lately has also become unmatched. For fall 2022 couture, he truly put it on full display with a rich spectrum of hues that were bold and brilliant. The range of greens to yellows was striking, from foamy pastels to topical brights. Lush purples, oranges, and pinks proved this is a designer who understands the power and enchantment color can hold.
Overall, the collection felt like a modern interpretation of the drama, individuality, and character of Italian cinema: any one of these looks could have been worn in a Fellini film. Mint green feathers that jutted out of skirts at the hips, or the halo-effect feathered headpieces, for instance, brought a playful and surreal element that felt straight out of Juliet of the Spirits, while the more simple column dresses brought to mind the Anita Ekberg Trevi Fountain scenes in La Dolce Vita.
Last season, Valentino doubled down on diversity by casting models for its couture show in a variety of looks, ages, and sizes. This season, too, offered up more diversity than we saw at any other couture show on the schedule. Still, it would have felt even more inclusive to see a wider range of models who fall outside the traditional size range in a collection that features over 100 looks—especially since this is couture, meaning these pieces will be made-to-order for any body type.
Either way, the impact of the show was tied to the strength of individuality. Even those who aren’t Valentino devotees will be able to find something in this collection to set their hearts aflutter.