The global theme dominating the spring runways was the most prominent influence at Valentino’s Spring/Summer 2016 ready-to-wear show. Designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccoli turned to the rich culture of Africa to enhance their collection. This wasn’t just a superficial inspiration; it was one that hit close to home. In recent years, Southern Italy has been a gateway for tens of thousands of African refugees, many of whom do not make it to the Mediterranean shore alive. While Italy has done what they can to help the refugees and offer them sanctuary, many people disapprove. Recognizing the power of fashion, the Valentino designers wanted to send a message of acceptance through their spring collection. The result of their efforts was a beautiful, powerful blend of Italian and African traditions. They not only borrowed tribal influences like beaded patterns, feather trims and carved ebony details, but also used them to strengthen clearly Roman features like gladiatoresque leather-stripped skirts and gladiator sandals. However, the cross-cultural fusions weren’t entirely obvious. They are more subtle in the dress with layered suede fringe and the application of tie-dye patterns as camouflage on utility jackets and cargo pants. This clever blending of Italian and African cultures roots the collection in a timely and significant fashion.
This look combines the light, carefree vibes of the Mediterranean with the bold, rich culture of Africa. A choker-like inset necklace enhances the white keyhole top, alluding to tribal jewelry. The short leather fringe skirt is an amalgamation of both Italian and African influence. Leather fringe points to the gladiators of ancient Rome, but the print and embellishment of the waistband is markedly tribal. This is mirrored in the tribal print sandals and the studded handbag. Even the model’s hair, pulled back into cornrows and finished with a bun, combines the two cultures.
To get this bold look for less, look to fast-fashion stores for affordable fringe skirts. H&M and Zara both have viable options. The one above is $40 from zara.com. The white blouse with a keyhole neckline is $50 from express.com. Add an embellished belt with a mix of brown and black leather to mirror the waistband of the Valentino ensemble. This one is from nrswbrld.com for $24. Add more embellishment with a studded bag, like this bucket style bag for $50 from stylemoi.nu. Tribal print sandals are popular and widely available nearly every spring and summer now, so plenty of affordable options exist. The crossed-strap version is just $9 from windsorstore.com. Go out for a fun, casual day of shopping or hanging out with friends, knowing you will receive compliments galore for your cool, cross-cultural look.
Sophie Fay Shaw is the High Fashion, College Wallet columnist. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.