All About Giambattista Valli x H&M
Intricate beadwork, cultured freshwater pearls and the most stunning dresses. Read the lowdown on H&M’s most couture collection ever.
Staged in a grand palazzo in Rome, Giambattista Valli unleashed the freewheeling spirit, sophistication and eternal designs of his collection for H&M with a fashion show on Thursday, October 24.
Valli girls and Valli boys walked the pink runway through the awe-inspiring corridors and great halls of the eternal city’s Palazzo Doria Pamphilj, while hundreds of guests — including Troye Sivan, Sofia Carson, Alexa Demie, H.E.R., Cameron Monaghan, Chiara Ferragni and Chris Lee — watched the line-up, led by Kendall Jenner, from the front row.
Ahead of the show, H&M Magazine got the hard facts behind the collection from H&M’s in-house design team, who’ve worked closely with Giambattista Valli to make the collection — in all its detail and workmanship — come together.
THE FIRST MEETING
Paris, October 2018. While most of us were still eagerly awaiting the launch of the Moschino x H&M collection, the small team from H&M’s Stockholm atelier were already — and with great discretion — planning for the next one. In contrast to the playful, wild and print-heavy Moschino x H&M collection, the 2019 collaboration was going in another direction: striving to make haute couture accessible to the masses.
For the first meeting, Giambattista Valli came prepared, showing detailed sketches, loads of fabric samples and sharing a crystal clear idea of who he envisioned wearing the collection. A Valli girl — of course — but with a little more edge. She shouldn’t only want to turn heads at dinner parties and soirées, she would wear it to the club too. And, for the first time, Valli boys were invited too.
With Giambattista Valli’s vision fresh in mind, the team packed his sketches, fabrics and materials together with suitcases full of archival pieces before heading back to their atelier. As always, the valuable goods were stored in a locked and secluded workroom.
THE MOST COUTURE COLLECTION EVER
H&M’s designer collaborations have pushed the envelope in fast-fashion for fifteen years. After collaborations with Karl Lagerfeld, Versace, Balmain and Moschino (to name just a few!), it’s now time to take on a new challenge: creating a haute couture-inspired collection on a big scale.
Giambattista Valli is first and foremost a dressmaker, and there’s no questioning that fact when you languish among the sixteen spectacular frocks, gowns and dresses in the women’s range. Although not made to order in his Paris atelier, his H&M collaboration features all the signature designs and details: tulle en masse, ruffles, intricate beadwork, beautiful embroidery, accentuated waists, pearl studs, and much, much more. The romantic and bohemian pieces are contrasted with punk-inspired pants and boots, and boxy decorated sweatshirts and hoodies.
In the accessories range, Giambattista Valli has included delicate floral-print silk and cashmere scarves, brass buckles and details molded from his own lips, and — for the first time in H&M history — cultured freshwater pearl necklaces, bracelets and earrings.
Using an array of different techniques, the finished collection consists of 41 pieces for women, 31 for men and 34 accessories. In the design process, Giambattista Valli has refined every item to make sure it has the perfect silhouette for its wearer.
“I’m used to intense and exacting atelier work, and I have very high standards when it comes to the quality of my creations, which I always personally check; but I have to admit I was the first to be surprised when we received samples for the fittings. H&M was able to get the same effect. They did everything wonderfully, even my signature multi-tier tulle gowns,” he says.
Normally, it’s women who adopt pieces from the masculine wardrobe, so I thought my men could just pick things up from the women’s wardrobes.
INTRODUCING VALLI BOYS
While haute couture and cultured freshwater pearls are a first for H&M, menswear is a new addition coming from Giambattista Valli’s Maison. And for this range, it gets personal.
For much of the menswear collection, inspiration comes from pieces in his personal wardrobe, prints are taken from paintings hanging in his own house, and the word love, which he signs all his letters with, is bedazzled on T-shirts, hoodies and accessories, in his own handwriting. Last but not least is the string of pearls. As the designer’s lucky charm, it has a natural place in the collection: lining necklines or studded-all-over sweatshirts, as well as being available as a unisex accessory.
“Normally, it’s women who adopt pieces from the masculine wardrobe, so I thought my men could just pick things up from the women’s wardrobes. The animal and flower prints, as well as the sequins and the transparencies, are just the same. In fact, pieces from the men’s collection can easily be worn by women: I encourage customers to do so, because everything is meant to be exchanged,” he said when announcing the collaboration in May.
GETTING THE GOODS
Now six long months have passed since Giambattista Valli x H&M was announced at the AmFar Gala in Cannes, and it’s only a few weeks until the extravagant designs will be available for you to incorporate into your own wardrobe. As always with H&M’s designer collaborations, the shopping rules are different, and planning is crucial. The collection will be available in selected stores spread over six continents. If you want to opt out of lining up outside a store, the full collection – including a handful of exclusive pieces — will be available online too.
Click here to find out which stores and what time on November 7 you’ll be able to shop the pieces you want.
WHO: Born in Rome, the designer and courtier started his Maison in Paris in 2005 and began showing haute couture at Paris Fashion Week in 2011.
NOTABLE CLIENTS: Rihanna, Penélope Cruz, Ariana Grande, Kendall Jenner, Sofia Carson, Amal Clooney, Queen Rania of Jordan, Chiara Ferragni, Giovanna Engelbert, among many others.
Want to know more? Read our interview with Giambattista Valli here.