Valentino’s Creative Director Pierpaolo Piccioli has a fond love for his country and the beauty of its craftsmanship.
Pierpaolo Piccioli is a master in the world of Italian fashion. With a career spanning over 30 years, he has dedicated his life to Italian luxury and has spent more than three decades crafting incredible creations and living out his passion for design. He worked at Fendi for almost ten years before joining Valentino in 1999 as an accessories designer. He worked alongside Maria Grazi Chiuri as Co-Creative Director before her departure to Dior in 2016. After her departure, Piccioli became the sole Creative Director of the House and through his role he has allowed women to dream, thanks to his breath-taking runway shows and his flawless, feminine designs. His presentations have been enough to bring women to tears.
Piccioli was born in Rome and his love for the city has never died. Perhaps that is why he has fitted in so seamlessly at Valentino. The fashion house is itself Roman, founded by Valentino Garavani in 1960 on the Via Condotti. It has since become one of the leading luxury fashion houses, not just in Italy, but in the world. Since Pierpaolo Piccioli became Co-Creative Director in 2008 (when he worked alongside Maria Grazia Chiuri until 2016), the brand has undergone a creative evolution. This evolution has made Valentino one of the most talked about brands in the world and has allowed for its international success. Here we discuss with Pierpaolo Piccioli his love for Rome and the importance of keeping Italian craftsmanship at the forefront of the house.
What does Italy mean to you and how would you describe it through your eyes?
Italy, and Rome in particular, de ne my culture and identity. Italian history, art and nature are simply part of my DNA. Two main aspects of the country really coincide with my ethical and aesthetic values: diversity and extraordinary beauty. Rome is a metaphor for diversity. It is the natural territory for complexity, the highest example of inclusivity. I have learnt most of what I know from this city in terms of emotional patrimony, let alone the historical knowledge. Although I enjoy the international allure of my job, I keep rooted in an Italian interior landscape. This sense of belonging allows a better understanding of the world.
Italy has suffered greatly throughout the global pandemic we are currently experiencing – when all of this is over what do you expect to see from the recovery of this crisis?
I think a new energy, which we started to perceive during these hard times, will catch on. I am particularly interested in the experiments we will approach with curiosity, to reinterpret reality together. We must deconstruct our dogmas, and that’s good. I also think that this country is reacting to and facing this health emergency with the same strength and dedication that our history can testify. We are naturally resilient and I am very proud to be Italian, now more than ever.
They say in every crisis there is always an opportunity – what is something positive that you think will come out of this situation?
Humanity and creativity will be placed where they should have always stayed: at the centre of everything. This experience made their value clearer than ever.
When all of this is over will you be changing any of the strategies of the brand and has it had an impact on how you will move forward?
I will not change anything in relation to the technique and the research process. We must preserve our heritage; the culture of the atelier cannot be modified in its essence. What will change in our everyday practice, will of course regard the safety of the people. Our crowded and never-ending creative reunions will become virtual and, to some extent, also the fundamental presentation rituals will follow the same line.
The fashion industry has grown enormously in the last years. Many designers and names have multiplied remarkably. What do you a designer have to do to sustain the desirability of the brand?
Be authentic, stay true to yourself, strengthen your narrative with emotional and rational elements that are consistent with contemporary society. In a word: dialogue.
You have always put your team at the forefront of appreciation, how are you coordinating these days with this situation?
We are always in touch. Not for a single second have I felt my team was loosening up. On the contrary, actually: our energy got stronger and the synergy that had characterised our collaboration has been reinforced by the emergency. It was a priceless confirmation of having a dream team.
Let’s talk about the SS20 collections, what was your inspiration for the women’s collection?
This collection hosts a significant capsule named Le Blanc, inspired by a reflection on the colour white. White was not intended as an expression of minimalism but as a “maximalist” manifestation of couture. I reflected on the Grisaille technique: by taking off the surface the essence emerges. Universality, personal expression and lightness encouraged the creation of these ethereal yet voluminous poplin dresses.
The “Made in Italy” element is very important to many, why do you think there is such a fascination with this concept globally?
In my opinion, our uniqueness lays in the simplicity on one hand and the extreme perfectionism on the other. Our passion is palpable, our tradition is profound.
What do you think are the fundamentals of success?
Truth, humanity, and freedom.
What’s your favourite Italian phrase or motto you live by?
“We are tired of becoming such serious youth, contented either by force, or criminals, or neurotics: we want to laugh, to be innocent, to expect something from life, to ask, to ignore. We don’t want to be so con dent, already. We don’t want to be so dreamless already.” Pier Paolo Pasolini Lettere Luterane, 1976
What would like to achieve that you feel you haven’t done yet?
I still have to find out!
How are you spending this quarantine period at home?
Sketching, reading a lot, and working on the upcoming collections. I’m also spending quality time with my wife Simona and our children: Benedetta, Piero and Stella. We watch movies, enjoy food, we talk and discuss a lot, we are a very normal family and now with no rhetoric, we understand how lucky we are to stay together.