Once upon a time, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli were fashion’s power duo. For more than a decade, the long-term creative partners collaborated under Valentino. Beginning with Red Valentino, before taking over the Italian house’s accessories range and then the entire brand itself in 2008, redefining the maison’s brand codes as co-creative directors. They were inseparable — until they weren’t. In 2016, Chiuri moved to Dior, while Piccioli stayed. It was simultaenously the end of a chapter and the beginning of another. Enter: VLTN.

Its timid introduction was through Piccioli’s Spring 2018 menswear collection, where the VLTN logo appeared cautiously on the front of crisp white button-ups and graphic t-shirts. Backstage ahead of the show, Piccioli said of his new shortened lettering, “It’s one of the logos of the house from the ’80s. I didn’t like it, because I knew it. But I have a lot of young guys on our team, and they loved it. I like to listen to them — you have to listen, to learn. So I tried to re-set my eyes. And I started to see it in a different way.”

This fresh perspective had been gradually raising its volume ever since Chiuri’s departure. Spearheading the house single-handedly, Piccioli ushered in a new era for the brand, anchoring his references on today’s streets. Tracksuits, sneakers, bomber jackets became recurring staples. But it wasn’t until VLTN that the change made its noticeable mark.

Its next entries were grand. VLTN pop-ups mushroomed from New York to Hong Kong, carrying a line of merch — tees, sliders, socks, basketballs — with the new logo slapped on. Then came VLTN’s first appearance on womenswear. The Moncler Genius project revealed Piccioli’s entry of sheeny puffer coats emblazoned with the now-recognisable four letters.

Now, even bolder, Piccioli’s Pre-Fall 2018 womenswear wholly embraced the logo influx. VLTN is plastered on bags of all stripes, including a witty leather “paper shopping bags”, and intarsia’d in black on the back of a white mink. Pointed toe stilettos, combat boots and sneakers are stamped with the abbreviation.

It’s worth noting that the shortened logo does not replace Valentino’s current one on a collective scale. VLTN serves its purpose in acknowledging the peripheral influence of millennials, earning brand currency via logo-printed offerings at a time when streetwear’s hyper-branded and irony-laden aesthetic is pivotal.

Of course, Piccioli wouldn’t be the first to hit refresh on a time-tested logo, nor would he be the last. Recently, Riccardo Tisci unveiled a skinny Helvetica-esque Burberry logo, designed by legendary graphic designer Peter Saville. Raf Simons, too, commissioned Saville to revamp Calvin Klein’s into distinctive all-caps.

Logos are, after all, talismanic signifiers for brand loyalists. Minor tweaks and permanent updates denote bigger changes set for execution. Be it a reflection of a wider cultural zeitgeist or a new direction altogether, sometimes all it takes is a clever logo refresh.

Valentino’s VLTN Pre-Fall 2018 pieces are now available in boutiques.

valentino.com