Giambattista Valli: Bringing Drama to the High Street
H&M has a long track record of collaborations, having worked with nineteen haute couture designers since 2004. This lofty roll call includes the likes of Stella McCartney, Balenciaga and Erdem. The Swedish mega-brand’s latest collection, however, is perhaps the most ambitious to date.
Giambattista Valli is not the first person one would associate with the high street. Opulent embroidery, dramatic chiffon ruffles, and a particular preference for theatrics; the designer’s signature styles are certainly not every day conventional outfits. The prices are not either, with ready-to-wear dresses starting at £2,000 and couture from £15,00. It is this very juxtaposition that makes the new line so thrilling.
Illustration by Himarni Brownsword
Speaking to the press earlier this year, Valli commented that he “saw it as a challenge” to adapt his brand for the masses and that it was an “opportunity to do something unexpected.” This ‘something unexpected’ was first unveiled in May when supermodel Kendall Jenner wore one of the collection’s fabulously ostentatious gowns on the Cannes red carpet. It immediately sent the internet into a frenzy, as millions of fervent fashion followers tried to obtain the garment from a mini launch designed to get them salivating. This craze had still not subsided when the full line was finally launched on November 7th; hundreds of people eagerly queued outside Regent Street’s store in a determined attempt to make a purchase.
The wardrobes of those lucky few who managed to secure an item would have seen an instantaneous transformation. The sixty-one-piece collection boasts a range of extravagant tulle dresses that ensure the wearer is the centre of attention during the upcoming party season. One scarlet-red number, widely shared on social media, sports a high-low hem, deep V-neck, and outlandish tulle sleeves. It is simultaneously romantic and formidable, an outfit well-suited for a feminist reimagining of Mrs Claus. A more wearable piece is a simple black mini dress with embroidered detail and a ‘Peter Pan’ collar. Paired with the right fur coat, a pair of tights, and black boots, it is the perfect fit to walk through the neon-lit streets of London in the winter months.
Valli further rose to the challenge of creating his first menswear range when collaborating with H&M, although he is anxious not to label it as such. “In the collection, there is no man, no woman,” he states, “it is very fluid – anyone can wear it anyway they want to.” This sentiment is particularly convincing in regards to the sparkly sequin blazer placed under the ‘Valli Boys’ line; it would look equally dashing with a leather mini skirt as it would if it was worn by Harry Styles. The boxer shorts 3 pack, however, is arguably not as universal or fluid as the rest of the collection.
It is unsurprising that with such a successful transference of his iconic looks from his habitual haute couture to the high street, Giambattista Valli’s collaboration with H&M has reached both critical acclaim and cult status amongst the fashion crowd. Christmas certainly came early for those who managed to grab a piece.