After months of waiting and making wish lists, the highly anticipated Giambattista Valli x H&M collection has arrived. The entire line is a feast for the eyes, filled with contrasting textures, captivating prints, and — of course — Valli’s signature use of lush tulle.
Ahead of the official launch, the designer and retail giant hosted a runway show in Rome to celebrate their collaboration, marking the first time the entire collection had been shown publicly. The Palazzo Doria Pamphilj, a Roman historical landmark, served as the extravagant backdrop for a runway production that was as elaborate and grandiose as one would expect from the Italian couturier.
“I believe it is a great opportunity to share this fashion culture with a large group of people,” Valli said at a press event before the show. “We found a very nice common language [with H&M]. The way I thought about this collection was to build the most honest and full of Giambattista Valli DNA [clothing line] for the customer. My approach for this collection was exactly the same as my couture and original collections.”
The Rome show boasted a star-studded guest list, including Kendall Jenner (who opened and closed the runway show), Halima Aden, Sofia Carson, H.E.R., and others.
When Aden first heard about the collection, she didn’t need much convincing to be sold on the significance of Valli bringing his high fashion sensibilities to H&M.
“For me, one of my biggest goals this upcoming year in 2020 is to be at the Met Ball,” Aden revealed to Refinery29. “I thought, ‘Okay. What better designer? [Valli] dressed 14 women for the Met Ball just this past year.’ I don’t know what the relationship or connection is, but I feel like somehow it’s bringing me closer to the Met Ball. So I was like, ‘Sign me up. He’s iconic.’”
The trailblazing model, who recently spoke at the One Young World Forum, wore a long sleeve, floor-length gown from the collection, which features ruffle detailing and a metallic gold print.
“I tried this look on, and it was just beautiful,” Aden said. “I feel classy, but still young. That was another goal of mine. I’m like, ‘Okay, I know I have to dress modest, but how can we still be age-appropriate?’ I want to feel good. Twirl a little bit. Nice waist. There’s a little sexiness, but we’re still keeping it cute and classy. This just screams my style.”
Aden added that H&M has always been a dependable style source for her modest, fashion-forward looks.
“I love love the store,” Aden said. “It’s one of my go-tos because I know I’ll find an outfit. It’s sometimes really hard if you wear the hijab to find pieces like skirts and longer dresses, but H&M is my go-to shop for that.”
She shared that one of her personal mantras — “don’t change yourself, change the game” — is a philosophy she not only lives by, but that she also incorporates into her everyday fashion choices.
“Now more than ever — whether it’s in fashion or any other industry — people are embracing individuality,” Aden explained. “You know, it’s okay to be who you are, but wear it proudly. I don’t have to conform in order to fit the mould. I can just be myself, and that’s enough.”
Individuality is undoubtedly one of Valli’s most recognisable markers as a designer. His pieces are distinctly their own, yet when presented together, they create a singular sartorial vision.
“I was completely in awe of that collection,” Carson told Refinery29 after the Rome runway show. “Every single piece — every single one kept getting better. I’ve been in awe of Giambattista Valli and his designs for years.”
Carson has long fantasised about when she would get to wear one of his creations and become a “Valli girl” herself.
“I remember dreaming that one day, if I was ever lucky enough, I’d be able to wear his designs,” Carson said. “We have such a special relationship today. I’ve worn his designs for so many special occasions in my life, from the Oscars to the Los Angeles Ballet Gala. When I heard of this collection and that he wanted me to be here to celebrate it with him, I was honoured and thrilled.”
She shared that if she had to select a favourite piece from the collection — quite the task in and of itself — the classic red tulle dress would be the winner.
“This one most definitely spoke out to me, and I’m so happy I got to wear it,” Carson said. “It’s so signature Giambattista. He has this way of celebrating femininity that is just so unique to him. For a long time, being feminine was seen as a weakness, but he celebrates it as a strength because there is no such thing as a weak woman. That’s what his clothing embodies, and that’s exactly what this collection is — an amazing celebration of this bold femininity.”
Though femininity is a central theme throughout the collection, it also marks Valli’s first foray into menswear. Male models walked down the palace’s runway in deliciously boisterous suiting — think head-to-toe sequins accessorised with a pearl choker, and a black and gold Napoleon-esque greatcoat with matching trousers. A statement-making black faux fur overcoat also made its runway debut.
Carson admired how Valli played with gender throughout the collection and during the runway show. “The girls that were wearing dresses had these amazing menswear-inspired shoes, and the makeup on the guys was really remarkable,” she said. “It’s amazing.”
The collection does indeed have something fantastical for everyone, but in true H&M designer collab fashion, acting quickly is recommended. Although Valli’s sought-after designs are at last attainable for the masses, they’re likely to sell out fast. Stop by select select stores or visit hm.com to get a piece (or two or three…) before everything is gone.