At Valentino: The Seriously Good, The Acutely Funny

An official New Trend has emerged


I remember having a conversation with Business of Fashion’s Imran Amed several seasons ago outside the Hotel Meurice on Rue de Rivoli. He’d said that “Paris is the unmissable,” referring to the bi-annual week of collections that set in motion the wheels of the following season’s creativity. I agreed with him but didn’t know exactly why until I was seated at a show in New York last month and realized I was watching regurgitations from the previous season in Paris.

This happens every six months: you get through New York, you go to London, you’re almost dead in Milan and then Paris comes in (hopefully) like a lion and storms out like an even stronger one, sharing new ideas and concepts and textures, setting the stage for what will be a literal manifestation of the next six months of your life. And then the six months are up but you’re forced to endure another week-long recap only now it’s called New York Fashion Week.

The cycle repeats itself.

At the tail end of a particularly special round in Paris, the most salient trend to walk off the runways appears to be a sense of humor. At Valentino, it was subversive in its delivery: when the show opened at the Tuilerie Gardens, the mood was austerity. The all-black set was ominous — ready to present gravitas.

The opening series of stripes and black and white geometric figures, set on what have become full-skirted mainstays of the brand while in the hugely protected and intelligent hands of Pierpaolo Piccioli and Maria Grazia Chiuri suggested that we were very well about to listen to the story of the “Jailhouse Rock” that could have been. The music was sobering, the models severe and the clothes — the clothes were remarkable.

There was something for everyone: she who slouches towards rock and roll (with two tulle mini dresses featuring cascading sleeves but straight, shapeless shoulders); she who marvels in the cues of hyper-literal sex appeal (one black embroidered and sheer mid-length dress, straight and shown with just black underwear and a bra); she who dresses up for the theater of her life (where else, after all, is one expected to traipse with the swagger of Mrs. Jagger in a red, v-neck gown that leaves as little to the imagination as white pasties might); she who favors comfort (there were knits!) and, of course, she who wants to everyone to know, when she walks into a room, that she is wearing that Valentino dress.

It was beautiful, really, the whole damn thing.  It didn’t live in the same vacuum of continuation of previous collections, which have earned Valentino the kind of sincerely Italian reputation that Dolce & Gabbana has built, but following Chanel’s cafe installation and the veil of fatigue that looked like it was almost literally lifted from the thousands of faces in that gargantuan room, Valentino was also just a show. And not a particularly funny one.

Until it wasn’t.

When the final model, in her elaborately embroidered dress disappeared off the runway, the music went dim, then bounced back with Owen Wilson and Ben Stiller. The two walked the runway on opposite ends toward the photo pit. Zoolander turned left, Hansel dropped his mic a.k.a Valentino coat and just like that, fashion was fun again.

The two actors were announcing a second Zoolander movie, which will premiere next February. It was an important step on the quest to achieve funny-in-fashion. Here is Valentino, a show that has consistently functioned as one of the heaviest weight lifting champions of fashion month. And where we thought Tuesday morning’s brasserie could not be beat, in just a matter of hours, a new stroke of life, devoid of bells and whistles, was collectively inhaled by the lungs of fashion as if saying with a kind of indelible confidence that you can be good, you can achieve respect but you must — you must — be funny. It’s trending.

For more fashion month coverage, click here.

Images via

Get more Fashion ?
  • After my friend saw Ben and Owen on the runway she said to me: It’s so sad that fashion isn’t about the fashion anymore. The shows are more and more a spectacle comparable with an opera.”. But to my mind this is the most interesting part about a fashion show. These days you could recognize that the designers think more about how their clothes should be seen and therefore they invent little stories around their clothes like the Chanel show. Or they think how their wearer should be for example a women who doesn’t take fashion too serious like at the Valentino show. In the days where trends are dead according to you Leandra, these Fashion Operas are a new way to express a feeling on the runway.
    (Sorry for my english)

  • Dainty Chic

    Stripes are all over, looks like SS2012 all over again, although this time is not Jacobs but Valentino itself! So excites about this Dainty and Chic trend!

  • Annika

    I agree! The clothes are absolutely stunning this season and the twist at the end made the whole show not too serious, I liked it! xx

  • This is so utterly amazing! I love fashion with a side of good humor


  • Marianne Ronsse

    You are so right in stressing the importance of funny: it is one of the Manrepeller’s main ingredients, and one of the reasons we love you!

  • Lucy Korn

    I’m torn between finding this amusing and a little bit depressing. I love a side serving of humor with my fashion but I can’t help but see this whole stunt as a virality ploy. It’s like Cathy Horan said in her recent piece on PFW, “A decade ago, even five years ago, a major designer would never have dreamed of allowing a celebrity to upstage him.”

  • Kelsey Moody

    I dont think Ive been tagged in more instagrams than the ones of Derek and Hansel at this show. One man and 5 syllables (Der-ek Zoo-lan-der) has cast a shadow over male modeling for the past few years and Im glad Mugatu isn’t the only designer who was brave enough to take an aging model out of retirement and put him on stage. Just because the limelight fades on certain models, does not mean their relevance and influence on fashion does as well. Look at Naomi Campbell or Kate Moss still booking major campaigns and dominating runways. Or even how Celine championed Joan Didion recently. I think its commendable of Valentino to give these male models a chance at relevancy after such an austere show, especially as Hansel’s silk pj ensemble and Zoolander’s dark structured suit fit their personalities perfectly. Also Snapchat’s fashion week coverage showcasing their backstage antics was soooo fashion forward..and is it just me or do you see Cara and Hansel becoming a thing??

    • Amelia Diamond

      this whole comment hahahaah

  • Maria N

    “There were something for everyone”

    sry to be the worst but … couldn’t not!! may the grammar gods forgive you.

  • Tiana

    Loving the Zoolander addition this year!