In Italian runway fashion, a unified concept of style is not always easy to grasp. Yes, the easy lines of Armani are certainly sophisticated, but they shy away from the svelte perfection of YSL heroin-chic silhouettes.
More famously, at the other end of the scale, the likes of Versace make a fashion statement out of simply being Versace, Dolce & Gabbana play with street friendly angles and a rustic past, while Moschino is many things other than conservative or, generally, sensible.
Gucci, the overlord of them all, runs counter to anyone’s concept of conventional style, yet still wins plaudits and customers en masse.
In this realm the likes of Mario Valentino [MV] are not aiming to compete, although the current furore over the brand’s apprehension of the Valentino Garavani name and look is often misplaced.
If anything, via an extensive bag collection, MV’s aim sometimes appear to be Love Moschino [in day glow colours and practical non-leather materials] while it also attempts to muscle in on some of the premium action taken up by the likes of Michael Kors: conservative and lifestyle-leaning shoulder bags and totes that only fall short on material quality.
Of course, style is predominantly a personal matter. We’re not saying you can necessarily wear anything and look stylish, but that your route to said style must be self-determined and is established through experience and reflection. Mario Valentino bags allow this degree of experimentation with bags that won’t cost you the Earth and therefore favour risk taking in a variety of pleasing colours, textures and formality levels.
The Vanvitelli Large Logo satchel in bossy red allows you to embrace the passionate side of your nature, whilst also referencing, somewhat obliquely, the colour most synonymous with the ‘other’ more illustrious Valentino. OK, so you won’t be getting calfskin, brass, and a Napa lining, but for nearly £1,700 less you can afford to experiment with the colour in case it’s something you really want to invest in.
Plus, you can dress it down and up to a certain level without having to worry about the whole look getting (inevitably) tired. And it’s stylish! MV plumps here for the easy-on-the-eye symmetry of other premium labels like Michael Kors and Coach, and inasmuch, is on to a winner.
MV has got into hot water on occasion for going full throttle with a Valentino name that is not wholly its own. The Pouch Bag is – according to the critics and lawyers – where MV has taken creative license a little too liberally.
But all brands are entitled to parade a name, and while the look and quality is far from cutting edge, it once again enables the wearer to diversify, play it large, and opt for something a little more dynamic than a more conservative premium brand.
Ultimately, if the wearer can make it work, then more power to them. The Medusa Shoulder bag is perhaps too strong a reference to the famous logo of mega-brand Versace, but aside from subtle horseshoe-shaped hardware, the imitation stops at the name.
Otherwise, this is a stylish and well- proportioned multi-use accessory that will work well with semi-casual slacks and blazers; the Armani-blue colouring adds extra class and aids the diffusion between night and day wear.
Finally, the Ramora Padlock is a genuinely gorgeous-in-orange bag that brings a summer blast to any wardrobe. Orange is often maligned as a tricky colour unless you have a darker complexion. It needn’t be. Ultimately, it’s just a colour, like gold, that wants to take centre stage. Let it do that and back it up with a few minor accents (via scarf or shoes) and you have a new casual colour friend.
Valentino bags may not be the go-to brand for those looking for the ultimate fashion statement or even a high-quality premium purchase. However, for those looking to work below the radar to construct a fabulous wardrobe without the inhibiting costs, it’s a brand that can do wonders for any woman. Diverse, sturdy, and ready to play long-term backup or short-term lead to sharper runway items, it promotes a vision of style some disdain, but more should consider embracing.
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