WHEN IN ROMA

Valentino’s PIER­PAOLO PIC­CI­OLI cre­ates fash­ion dreams, but his great­est power is be­ing him­self

InStyle (USA) - - Contents - pho­tographed by FRANCO PAGETTI styled by KONCA AYKAN by LAURA BROWN

For Valentino’s cre­ative di­rec­tor, Pier­paolo Pic­ci­oli, be­ing your true self is al­ways in fash­ion

AAfter work­ing at Fendi for al­most 10 years, Pier­paolo Pic­ci­oli joined Valentino as an ac­ces­sories de­signer in 1999. Now, 21 years later, as the sole cre­ative di­rec­tor of the house (fol­low­ing the de­par­ture of Maria Grazia Chi­uri to Dior in 2016), he has pro­duced some of the most sub­lime cou­ture and im­agery in Valentino’s glit­ter­ing history. If you are lucky enough to at­tend a Mai­son Valentino cou­ture show at Paris’s grand Hô­tel Salomon de Roth­schild, the odds are good that you will be moved to tears. While each gar­ment is imag­ined by Pic­ci­oli, what makes each col­lec­tion spe­cial is its pal­pa­ble heart: a com­bi­na­tion of Pic­ci­oli’s vi­sion and that of his beloved team, who cre­ate ev­ery­thing by hand. The mem­bers of Valentino’s ate­lier not only own what they do but also are rou­tinely cel­e­brated, ap­pear­ing on Pic­ci­oli’s

In­sta­gram (of­ten with their own sound­track).

A true cou­turier, Pic­ci­oli is also a true Ro­man who walks the city (or steps out of restau­rants for a cig­a­rette) in his mostly black

VLTN Ts and sneak­ers.

When he fin­ishes his work in the stu­dio, he jumps into a car to go home to

Net­tuno, an un­pre­ten­tious beach­side sub­urb where he was raised and now lives with his wife,

Si­mona; his three chil­dren, Benedetta, Pi­etro, and Stella; and their dog,

Mi­randa (named af­ter

Pri­estly, of course).

We meet for lunch at

Nino, a restau­rant a few blocks away from Valentino’s sto­ried head­quar­ters on Pi­azza Mig­nanelli, near the Span­ish Steps.

On the way to our table,

Pic­ci­oli is stopped by

Fed­erico For­quet, a Ro­man cou­turier—and Ba­len­ci­aga pro­tégé—who was ac­tive in the 1960s and early 1970s. Now near­ing 90, the gra­cious and el­e­gant For­quet tells Pic­ci­oli sin­cerely that he’d given up on fash­ion but the de­signer’s work for Valentino has “rein­spired” him. Pic­ci­oli smiles widely, says “Gra­zie mille,” and bounds over to our table.

This sort of in­ter­ac­tion is not un­usual. Pic­ci­oli is rou­tinely stopped by fans and mobbed back­stage af­ter his pre­sen­ta­tions. But he’s not grand. He isn’t hum­ble (an of­ten disin­gen­u­ous word in fash­ion) ei­ther. Pic­ci­oli knows his abil­i­ties and knows how to de­ploy them, with care, craft, and a lack of pre­ten­sion. And that’s why he is do­ing some­thing more res­o­nant than creat­ing even the most glo­ri­ous cou­ture: He’s chang­ing the cul­ture of fash­ion.

LAURA BROWN: So, Pier­paolo, Fed­erico For­quet just told you that you’ve rein­vig­o­rated his love of fash­ion. He’s not the only one who feels that way.

PIER­PAOLO PIC­CI­OLI: He left fash­ion many years ago be­cause he lost in­ter­est in it. So now he told me, “I got emo­tional from your shows. And be­cause of you, I found the en­thu­si­asm in fash­ion again.” That’s the best part of what I do. To have some­one not just say, “Your work is beau­ti­ful,” but to be in­volved in your dream and share the same idea that fash­ion is mag­i­cal, and not just mar­ket­ing, is so per­sonal. And, of course [laughs], I in­vited him to the next show.

LB: But you’ve been do­ing this for a long time. You’ve been at Valentino for years and have al­ways ap­proached fash­ion with com­plete op­ti­mism. It’s like you’ve peeled away at people’s cold, dead hearts. PP: I never imag­ined I’d have all of this in my life. I grew up by the sea­side, far from fash­ion, cin­ema, red car­pets, shows in Paris, ev­ery­thing. So to be here ev­ery day is some­thing I ap­pre­ci­ate as a gift of life. I could say that there’s a pres­sure to do mul­ti­ple shows, men’s and cou­ture. But I don’t feel that pres­sure. When I have prob­lems, I face them like ev­ery­body else.

LB: It’s not the worst job in the world.

All cloth­ing, through­out, Valentino. All ac­ces­sories, through­out, Valentino Gar­a­vani. Mod­els, from left: Can­lan Wang, Isa Peerde­man, Makala John­son, Lau­rina Lu­bino, Na­talia Trnkova, and Alisha Nes­vat.

Pic­ci­oli in a Valentino T-shirt and a Valentino Gar­a­vani neck­lace.

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