Join Fashion’s Special Ops with new Valentino Rockstud Camo Collection
City dwellers know all about acts of subterfuge — if cities are concrete jungles, then survival of the fittest involves learning how to develop chameleon-like adaptation strategies. Perhaps this explains why so many urbanites (myself included) love camouflage prints — even those with pacifist ideologies. That’s why so many brands catering to cosmopolitan women have incorporated camo prints into their designs — from streetwear brands like Triple Five Soul to luxury houses like Louis Vuitton. But few would have expected Valentino, the couture house known for its romantic, airy, ethereal, and ultra feminine designs, to embrace camouflage prints so whole-heartedly. In many ways it speaks to the vision of Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli, Valentino’s Creative Directors since 2007. Over the past six to seven years, the duo has attempted to reinvent the brand in order to give it more of a youthful appeal without straying too dramatically from the brand’s design roots and its emphasis on flawless craftsmanship. The new Valentino Rockstud Camo collection of footwear and handbags, then, could be deemed a reflection of their attempts to push the brand into the contemporary realm.
The Valentino Rockstud Camo Foulard Tote Bag in Pink ($1695 at NeimanMarcus.com) is, without a doubt, the boldest design in the collection since it incorporates both a camouflage print and striking neon details meant to make the piece stand out. rather than blend into a crowd. Made in Italy, this bag features a double-faced camouflage-print foulard scarf fabric in acid green, deep brown, dark olive, and black hues, with hot pink vitello leather trim surrounding this central camo motif. Measuring 13″ in height, 14″ in width, and 6″ in depth, the open-top tote also incorporates a removable, 21″-long cross-body strap and double shoulder straps with gold-toned pyramid studs along their base, where the straps meet the top rim of the tote.
In terms of the footwear options, the most audacious design is the Valentino Rockstud Neon Camo Simple Pump ($1175 at NeimanMarcus.com). Rather than having camouflage print canvas uppers, these create an interesting sense of texture by layering strips of neon leather over a camo print canvas base. Along the front of the shoe, for instance, you’ll notice neon pink leather splotches, meant to resemble camo spots, over black leather, while classic green fatigues color scheme surfaces along the side canvas panels and at the heel counter. Cream-colored leather overlays also infuse an unexpected dose of texture to the back section of the uppers, right before the heel counter area. Cream-colored piping around the collar and covering the 4″ heel works to add a sense of sophistication and luxury to the savvy design. Pyramid studs along the heel counter, meanwhile, infuse a rock ‘n’ roll feel to the design without sacrificing its elegance.
In addition to heels, the collection incorporates several upscale sneakers. The Valentino Rockstud Camo-Print Sneaker ($795 at NeimanMarcus.com), shown third above in Green/Yellow and sixth above in Taupe, features a classic trainer design but in luxurious Italian leather and suede, along with camo print canvas. A neon strip featuring pyramid studs adorns each sneaker’s heel counter, adding an unexpected bit of punk flavor, but what makes these sneakers so fascinating is their unique juxtaposition of materials and their inventive color combinations.
For a simpler, more summery look, women can choose the Valentino Neon Camo Espadrille Flat in Green/Fuchsia($475 at NeimanMarcus.com), which features canvas uppers in a combination of fluorescent salmon pink, olive green, and muddy brown; a jute-capped round toe that streamlines the slip-on design; a raffia midsole with blanket stitching for a playful, boardwalk- and cookout-ready look; and a rubber outsole for traction.
One of my favorite offerings is the Valentino Rockstud Camo Canvas-Leather Soft Medium Tote Bag ($2645 at NeimanMarcus.com) — measuring 11″ in height, 14 1/2″ in width, and 6 3/4″ in depth — which is also crafted out of camo print napa leather and canvas, pieced together in a patchwork manner. The cobalt blue touches — the leather overlays within the camo print, the rows of pyramid-shaped studs on either side of the tote’s front panel, and the leather straps (which have a drop of 9″) — work synergistically to add an electrifying energy to this design.
Who wouldn’t want to be a camo chameleon with these pieces?