A cold-weather staple just keeps getting cooler.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

A cold-weather staple just keeps getting cooler.

Graphic shapes that are as mystic as they are futuristic; mediaeval Madonnas seen through spaceage lenses – these are the flowery ways in which Valentino creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli’s latest creations and muses are described in the accompanying press notes. But make no mistake, the loftily depicted styles aren’t the luxury house’s couture pieces, but Piccioli’s capsule collection of down-filled items for Italian ski-wear brand Moncler.

Including streamlined hooded capes and long gloves, the collaboration is one of eight in the Moncler Genius project, where designers interpret the brand’s signature down material in unexpected ways. Elsewhere, divisive creative director Demna Gvasalia has also put his unique spin on the puffer. His off -the-shoulder quilted jackets for Balenciaga, for example, look like something a female Canadian mountaineer might wear to the opera. The notion of making this functional material fashionable is not new: Respected names ranging from John Galliano to Junya Watanabe have used it to avant-garde effect. But with the unabating rise of luxe leisurewear, this cold-weather staple has become cooler than ever.