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While brands travel the globe staging flamboyant shows for their cruise and pre-fall collections, Valentino’s latest offering, dubbed Urban Riviera, was presented via a lookbook with accompanying press notes. Was it a statement against the turn to the extravagant that fashion shows have taken this year? Pierpaolo Piccioli wasn’t available for interviews, so the move is up for interpretation.

Scrolling through the images Maison Valentino provided, the impression was that of a wardrobe where luxe was given a twist of cool, in keeping with Piccioli’s current direction. Via email, he confirmed that “the idea of a wardrobe as a vocabulary of various and diverse semantic layers has always fascinated me. Every one of us is a collector, creating a vision through selection and personal taste.”

Separates of the deceptively nonchalant variety were styled in the counterintuitive way the designer has embraced, looking at the boundary-breaking codes of the new generation to open up Valentino’s repertoire of haute self-representation “to many aesthetic worlds.”

While the recent Paris show read as an exercise in demystifying the formality of the black tie, the approach here seemed utterly pragmatic. Pieces had a polished ease about them, with no conceptual detours. Stylish mismatches abounded: A brocade full-circle skirt was worn with a masculine striped shirt and a simple V-neck jumper; a leg-baring, skimpy bodysuit in gray wool looked sexy under a chic navy peacoat. On a similar note, a richly embroidered full skirt (one of the collection’s main themes) took a turn for the antithetical combined with a fitted striped marinière, while a mermaid trailing skirt embellished with sequined florals was given the nonchalant treatment paired with a dove gray jersey sweatshirt.

Broad-shouldered masculine pantsuits introduced the monochrome palette that punctuated the evening offer. Dense pops of bright green, Valentino red, and the new Pink PP hue added vitality to sleek long dresses with side bow-knotted cut-outs, as well as to fluid jumpsuits with wide palazzo pants. Glamorous yet tinged with cool, they exuded the charisma of haute dolce vita ingrained in the house’s codes. There’s nothing quiet about Piccioli’s idea of luxury. It would’ve been interesting to have him articulate on the subject du jour.