Sunday, 16 May 2010


What do you think of when you hear "Valentino"? Maybe big, poofy ball gowns. Elegant couture. The color red. An extremely tanned little elf of a man. Well, now Valentino is making T-shirts.

According to Christina Brinkley of the Wall Street Journal, the couture house started to make extremely high-end T-shirts. They are simple jersey T-shirts, but they are adorned with all of the signature Valentino trimmings: lace, sequins, silk. The shirts range from $395 to $3,000. The company's co-designers, Maria Grazia Churi and Pier Paolo Piccioli, have introduced ten of these shirts to the market and plan on creating ten new T-shirts each season.

In a way, the T-shirts make sense. As one can easily infer from the 2008 documentary about Valentino's last runway show and eventual retirement, The Last Emperor (which I just realized I haven't reviewed yet. Hmm, I guess I'll have to go back and watch it...), after Valentino retired and the company was sold, the new owners are far more interested in the bottom line than any integrity to art or to the house's legacy. And this isn't to say that Chiuri and Piccioli are bad designers, or that the T-shirts aren't secretly awesome, just that this very commercial decision is a sign of the times. The T-shirts have been selling very well, and they are a clever mix of not only the high-low sensibility of the moment, but also, in some ways, the green movement (the embellishments are all made from fabric scraps. Thing extremely high-end American Apparel). Even though the house's legendary gowns are extremely expensive, it is clear that the owners of Valentino want to turn a bigger profit more quickly by entering the world of sportswear.

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