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For the next several months, the Museum will be posting intermittent items looking at the influence of the Valentino archive on current and recent collections. This edition: A look at "Valentino Red."


If it's possible for a designer to own a color, Mr. Valentino owns red. His obsession with it dates back to his days as a student: Attending the Barcelona opera, he spotted a woman with gray hair dressed in red velvet, and the image struck him to his core. "Among all the colors worn by the other women, she looked unique, isolated in her splendor," Mr. Valentino recalls. "She became the red goddess. Fabulous. I think that a woman dressed in red is always magnificent. She is the perfect image of the heroine in the middle of a crowd."


Red gowns were a mainstay of Valentino shows when Mr. Valentino was at the head of the maison, and now, with Pierpaolo Piccioli in charge, the tradition lives on. One way that Mr. Piccioli has updated the house's use of the color is in his deployment of Valentino red in daywear looks, to wit, throughout his hip-hop-inspired collection for Resort 2018, which featured a deep-red "hoodie" coat and slinky red trousers that riffed on track pants, with a stripe of pink running down each leg.


Thus far, no Piccioli show for Valentino has paid better homage to Valentino red—or better demonstrated Mr. Piccioli's talent for code-mixing—than his Pre-Fall 2019 outing. Staged in Tokyo, the show opened with a passage of 21 red looks for both men and women, most of them monochrome but a few featuring a bold print of red flowers inspired by Japanese glazing techniques. Likewise, the show closed with a dozen all-red evening looks—incomprehensibly airy confections of ruffles and flounces, including a show-stopping "red goddess" gown worn by Kaia Gerber. It was the most emphatic statement of the maison's passion for Mr. Valentino's "magnificent" color since Mr. Valentino took his bow alongside a bevy of red-clad beauties at his final couture show. So long as there is Valentino, there shall be Valentino red.


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