One of the lessons of 2020 is that globalization isn’t just about being connected in terms of communication, but that all of us are interconnected on a human level. That we are stronger together is a message close to the heart of Pierpaolo Piccioli, who presented Valentino’s spring 2021 collection not in Paris as usual, but in Milan as a show of support for his home country, Italy, which was so devastated by the pandemic.
Piccioli might be described as fashion’s bridge builder. He’s brought couture touches over to ready-to-wear, and he’s championed the idea of “resignification,” which, explains a company communique, “consists in giving new value to symbols, ideas, places, atmospheres that come from different moments in time, but are still relevant for the contemporary scenario.” One example of this mythology was when, for the spring 2019 couture show, Piccoli reimagined Cecil Beaton’s famous 1948 Vogue sitting recast with women of color.
The designer returned to the idea for spring via a surprise collaboration with Levi’s. The result is a cosigned, co-ed model of the 517 boot cut jean, which is wider from the knee down to accommodate footwear, with a custom label. Jeans, first worn by workers, are among the most democratic of garments, and have become a universal uniform while retaining their symbolic connection with youth and independence.
Levi’s 517’s were introduced in 1969, a year of possibility (Apollo 11), protests against Vietnam, and peaceful gatherings (Woodstock). Opening with a mini look, the show included fringe, crochet, florals, and those jeans, familiar hippie signifiers reimagined for today in the romantic Valentino way. So, when Labrinth sang the lyric “Can you feel the love?” The only possible answer was a resounding yes.