The cheap little lounging outfits they hand out on
airplanes these days are enough to make Valentino
nostalgic for the days when people would really dress
to travel. Comfort be damned, nothing beats a
handcrafted crocodile coat or a three-piece suit in
the finest wool if you wish to present una bella
figura in midair. That, at least, is the corrective
vision the designer aimed to offer in a show that
welcomed its audience aboard Valentino Airlines (the
invitation was in the form of a first-class plane
To an abstract aural backdrop of Brian Eno ambience and airport announcementsa mélange that successfully duplicated the dislocating drift of travel itselfValentino paraded a mini-microcosm of characters from the ideal private lounge. It was rather like an update of the old Taylor-Burton starrer The V.I.P.'s, and just as enjoyably lavish. Aside from the croc and camel hair, there were double-breasted pinstripes, an astrakhan coat, a trench with huge gold buttons, a satin jacket in creamy cappuccino, a leopard-printed ponyskin car coat, a shearling-lined blouson in mushroom suede, a gray silk suit...well, you get the picture.
Val's fly guys were light years away from your average track-suit-clad schleppers, a fact underlined by the guitar-wielding longhair in a caviar-beaded jacket (what other kind of bead do you imagine Valentino would use?) and models Tyson Ballou and Will Chalker in full cowboy rig, strolling the catwalk hand-in-hand. Surprisingly, that was the season's first acknowledgment of the Brokeback phenomenon.