One of the more dramatic turnarounds in recent seasons is Valentino’s menswear proposition, which has been given a reboot in terms of relevance and repositioning. Now much younger and streetwear-driven, the collections follow some fairly stereotypical menswear conceits; £500 sweatshirts, recoloured camouflage, heavy trainers completely unsuitable for any sporting pursuit. The ubiquitous bomber. I could go on but, at £440 for a pair of plain Japanese denim jeans, I think you can work out by now that a luxury price-point and ingenuity don’t necessarily go hand-in-hand.
Compare and contrast with Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli’s women’s collections however, which constantly push the boundaries of the Valentino brand whilst acknowledging the creative legacy of its creator Valentino Garavani.
So Valentino is a house of two distinctly opposing sides, the youthful modernist menswear versus the cosseted sexuality and flouncy femininity of the women’s couture. Add to this Valentino’s racy Rockstud accessories, soon to be lensed by priapic photographer Terry Richardson, and we have an overall confused offering. The virgin/whore dichotomy of the Valentino woman, and the conservative-with-a-small-‘c’ sports luxe masculinity of Valentino’s male proposal, conflicting with the famously flamboyant lifestyle of Signore Garavani.
Uomo, the latest men’s fragrance from Valentino-licensee Puig and Olivier Polge is similarly confused. The bottle is admittedly a work of art, and heavy enough to star as Exhibit ‘A’ in a high-profile murder trial, but also a little laboured, like a cut-crystal whisky tumbler, and very much removed from Valentino’s menswear concept.
Uomo itself begins with an initial burst of bergamot which, sadly, doesn’t distinguish it from a lot of men’s fragrances on the market, and Mirto, a myrtle-based liqueur popular on the Mediterranean islands of Corsica, Capraia and Sardinia. The sweetness is spiked with bitter coffee and hazelnut, rounding out to a smoother, more gourmand mix of cocoa and Crema di Giandula, a rendering of the classic Italian Affogato dessert, albeit with a smoky, arid edge.
Unlike pudding, Uomo is a forceful, dynamic presence and hangs around longer than a one-night stand. Not for those who creep around the edges, despite Valentino’s anonymous, clichéd menswear, Uomo is a keeper.
Valentino Uomo is available from John Lewis, Boots and Debenhams in 50ml (£47), 100ml (£54.50) and 150ml (£85) EDT versions.
Review written by Lee Clatworthy (@bombfashion) exclusively for www.katiechutzpah.com