Alessandro Michele’s Surprise Valentino Debut Collection Spans the Decades


Alessandro Michele’s debut for Valentino was technically scheduled for September 2024 when he would present the house’s spring 2025 collection. But early Monday morning, fashion followers awoke to a surprise resort collection drop from the brand’s new creative director.

According to WWD, Michele “instinctively decided” that the resort 2025 collection needed its own moment in the sun before entering stores this fall. “It was against nature to keep the collection under wraps,” he said. Fittingly, the collection is titled “Avant les debuts” or “Before the Beginning.” It’s a fitting name, given that Michele’s debut show will still take place during Paris Fashion Week this fall, as scheduled.

The over 150-look lineup offered a feast to Michele’s fans who have been famished for the designer’s maximalism since he left his post at Gucci two-and-a-half years ago. And those who were craving a re-entry into Michele’s world of mixed patterns, adornment, and whimsy will be delighted with his first offering for Valentino. It doesn’t stray too far from his work at Gucci, no, but also plays off of Valentino’s own history, and the more overindulgent era of the brand in the ’70s when Valentino Garavani was experimenting with fashion’s gender binary himself (though there are touches of the ’50s, ’60s, and even ’80s in there as well). Michele said that upon his arrival to Rome, he got lost in the brand’s archives and among the “objects” specifically. “The rugs, the Chinese vases, the beautiful things [Garavani] surrounded himself with conditioned his designs,” Michele said. “He amplified beauty. I share the same kind of relationship with fashion as a great vehicle for freedom.”

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Courtesy of Valentino
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Courtesy of Valentino
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Courtesy of Valentino
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Courtesy of Valentino

It’s an all-encompassing welcome to the world of Michele’s Valentino, and an impressive feat, quantity-wise, considering the designer has only been at the job for about two-and-a-half months. Nearly 200 images make up the lookbook. There are tweed coats trimmed in fur, suede bags dripping in fringe, ruffles on collars, bowties and hems. A houndstooth cape meets a plaid wool suit, finished off with a geometric-patterned sweater. Those more exuberant looks are balanced out by some rendered all in white, a reference to Garavani’s 1968 collection for the brand. The “Ladies Who Lunch” trend gets the Michele touch, with a cream, double-breasted suit and a pussy-bow shirt exploding from the lapels. A tweed, off-white suit is decorated with lace tights, a turban, and a wide string of pearls. Sheer, embroidered gowns and intricately beaded minis provide a sneak peek as to what we can expect when Michele shows his first couture collection next year, and the designs that will likely be eaten up by stylists and Michele’s long list of celebrity clientele.

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Just like at Gucci, Michele works in the house’s signatures consistently throughout the collection, with the brand’s V logo making various appearances—as a pattern, an adornment on belts, pressed in leather on bags, and more. “Chez Valentino” shirts and hats add a casual vibe and accessibility to looks, and will possibly be the first big seller of Michele’s Valentino. And there is no lack of accessories—another likely selling point—with those pearls decorating many outfits, along with brooches, door knocker earrings, fanny packs, and head wraps. The suede bag is contrasted by more classic leather silhouettes, as well as messenger totes and embroidered clutches.

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Courtesy of Valentino
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Courtesy of Valentino
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Courtesy of Valentino
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Courtesy of Valentino

Michele says his goal with this collection was to create “a real wardrobe” while connecting his tenure to Garavani’s work and the history of the house. “I’m deep in conversation with the clothes he created, and with his life, and I’ve often had the impression of having him seated next to me,” he said. Still, this is very much a Michele collection—with a mix of Roman excess, as opposed to the Milanese whimsy of Gucci. A fine line, perhaps, but an important one.



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