June 26, 2008
Emile Hirsch is the new face of Valentino's menswear, which tells you plenty about where the house is heading under Ferruccio Pozzoni. Once upon a time, the designer talked about Helmut Berger and David Sylvian as benchmarks. Now he wants to get a young clientele interested in dressing up. And his latest collection was nothing if not dressythough it was also slightly airless in its emphasis on out-and-out luxe. Like the checked jean jacket over a shawl-collared, double-breasted waistcoat and a stock-tied shirt. Clothes for a modern peacock? (Check the lilac shoes that completed the outfit.) But if Valentino himself increasingly emphasized the value of leavening "important" pieces with jeans and T-shirts, Pozzoni has unwittingly given the wearer similar leeway: Don't dress up the double-faced plonge-leather jacket, or the coat in navy mohair. And accept the cream canvas cotton suit as a casual new version of eveningwear. The designer momentarily blanched when that suggestion was madeespecially because he'd already offered a spectacular linen tux as an alternative to conventional eveningwearbut he quickly came to terms with a different perspective. Which suggests he may be the tugboat to turn this battleship around.