About a year ago, Suzy Menkes hosted one of her International Herald Tribune fashion conferences in Rome. This one had a strong emphasis on the future importance of Africa. Giambattista Valli took it all to heart. So here we are, eleven months later, with his new collection for Moncler Gamme Rouge and a show reflecting Valli's conviction that Africa has "the coolest, most eccentric people in the world."
The catwalk was draped in vines, but sirens wailed and red lights flashed: This was clearly an urban jungle. Diversity has been a touch paper all season—Valli's multiracial catwalk mix of boys and girls, hip-hoppers and skaters felt like a natural assimilation of urban cultures. Anyway, Moncler already has a natural advantage in the sportswear stakes, so Valli's collage of couture feathers, snakeskin, and go-fast athleticism made sense. When worlds collide in a coat that mashes up leopard spots, mesh, and feathers, Moncler Gamme Rouge is what happens.
The silhouette was as trim as a Valli girl could wish. And as sharp as a blue leopard tee paired with a pert striped skirt draped to one side. Consider for a moment that such a look shared the catwalk with a giant zebra-print duffel—Valli's marriage of form and function for Moncler has clearly opened up a whole other arena of design for him. His favorite look in this collection might be a match of cropped utility jacket and jodhpurs, some in silk, others in denim. Sure, the feathery froth spoke to the Valli we know, but this look suggested someone more interesting.