Valentino Garavani is 90 years old, Pierpaolo Piccioli talks about the “last emperor” of fashion: “When I talk about him, I also talk about me”

“It’s been 22 years since I set foot here at Palazzo Mignanelli, with Maria Grazia Chiuri, to design the accessories for the house: for eight years I worked with Valentino and Giancarlo Giammetti, then in a team with Maria Grazia, then alone. My story largely coincides with that of him: for me, he is not only the founder, the Emperor of fashion, the legend known to all, but a part of me”. Pierpaolo Piccioli does not often speak of his teacher, or rather, he does not do so with words, but rather with the language of fashion; with his creations which have the honor and the responsibility to perpetuate the heritage of Valentino Garavani. Now, however, on the creator’s 90th birthday dedicated to history as the “last emperor” of fashionPiccioli dedicated a sincere writing to him published in the pages of the last issue of “D – The Republic“. A text in which the creative director of Maison Valentino traces the intertwining of his personal history with that of the “tailor of Voghera”, in the century Valentino Clemente Ludovico Garavaniwho turns 90 today, May 11.

When I talk about Valentino, I’m also talking about me. I met Valentino through the images of photographers and the pages of magazines, standing in the crowd via Condotti to watch his fashion shows at Donna sotto le Stelle, trying to catch Dalma and Pat Cleveland on the catwalk – says Piccioli – . I saw my first haute couture dress up close when I arrived here, and that’s exactly why I’ve always dreamed of working either for Yves Saint Laurent or for Valentino Garavani: they were the last, real couturiers , and I wanted to learn from them”. And while Saint Laurent has made black its color par excellence, Valentino Garavani has consecrated red forever, the red Valentino, which makes it a symbol of elegance, refinement, exclusivity, luxury and magic. Legend has it that the designer fell in love with it during a trip to Spain, to Barcelona, ​​when he was still only an apprentice in the Parisian workshop of Jean Dessès. Before him, Christian Dior had already tried, in 1947, to bring this color to the catwalks but was forced to give up, because at the time it was still considered vulgar, too cheeky, absolutely not suitable for a “lady “. By the 1960s, however, times had changed, the woman was no longer just a wife or a lover, she was a movie diva or a charismatic muse like Jackie Onassis, perfect models to embody the ideal of absolute beauty that Valentino pursued with his clothes. He lived and worked between two eras, the last representative of this sublimated haute couture typical of the first half of the 20th century which he was able to bring together in a new haute couture aimed at modern men and women, introducing the world the existence of what we now call “Made in Italy”a know-how made of a unique creative flair combined with a centuries-old craft tradition.

“I would never make a collared dress like the one he made for his sister, out of deference to her work: for me the true homage is that paid without reverence, respecting its spirit – Pierpaolo Piccioli writes again in his stream of consciousness on the pages of ‘D’ -. And Valentino’s goal has always been to find absolute beauty, regardless of what surrounds it. On the other hand, I can’t help but absorb what’s around me, but I’ve learned to translate it into beauty. And beauty must respect contemporary canons, that’s what I’m doing here today: I don’t betray her research, but I modify its parameters”. Of course, from her Mr. Valentino, she had the privilege to be able to dress virtually all of the greatest style icons of the 20th century, models, New York socialites, first ladies and stage actresses, who vied for her attentions, influencing her style and helping to fuel the myth of her fashion. his ego. The images that represent him in a tuxedo and a white scarf on the arm of his icons, dto Diana Vreeland to Jaqueline Onassis to Sophia Loren to Naomi Campbell and Gisele Bündchen are now part of history.

What I loved most about working with him was being able to experience the human value of fashion. Let’s be clear, Valentino knows how to strike when he wants, but he does it with an innocence without malice. Once he was furious because the bags were stuck in the snow on the way to Paris, so he couldn’t see them in advance before the parade: “No problem, as soon as they arrive I throw them away by the window”. Place Vendôme,” he repeated. Then, when he saw them, he exhibited them, without flinching. He loved them,” recalls Piccioli, who worked hand in hand with him for ten years, until September 4, 2007. The date on which Valentino Garavani said goodbye to fashion, with a fashion show-event entered in history and three days of exclusive celebrations in his Rome between a thousand and one night parties and celebrities from all over the world. The same ones who had loved and followed him in his 47-year career and who was then the beloved companion and trusted partner of Giancarlo Giammetti who had to manage in his crazy star whims. Now, due to this pandemic which has revolutionized approaches to sociality, there is no pharaonic party or masked ball in his French castle scheduled for Valentino Garavani’s 90th birthday, just an intimate party with work colleagues and lifelong friends at his estate on the Appia Antica in the capital. Even though we know he never reads about himself, “I was doing it for both of usrevealed Giammetti a Republic, punctual protector of the magic bubble in which the creator has always lived, we would like to send him our most sincere wishes. Happy Birthday Mr. Valentine!

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