Valentino's legacy

10:13 PMJennie Barck

Here's a little article I wrote on Valentino

Valentino’s legacy

During their latest fashion week show Valentino produced a collection influenced by Roman opera and operatic characters, staying true to the Italian heritage, and using traditional handmade methods of creating singular masterpieces.

Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli, the head designers of Valentino since 2008, once again painted a picture of an elegant Italian woman through excellent craftsmanship and elegant silhouettes, but this time with a more obvious modern twist. Their use of the fantasy world of opera as an inspiration is something that Valentino Garavani himself could have done, but their take on it has a more contemporary feel. Even Valentino’s signature red was influenced by theatrical curtains as to show the dramatic effect of women and proves how their intentions are the same. In the couture dresses of Maria and Pier, you can see naive and animalistic fairy tale embroidery, while a dress by Garavani could possibly have had an elegant animal print instead.

In an ever changing world, it is getting increasingly harder to establish and even harder to conserve a brand with a universal image of its distinct style. In several people’s opinion, this is what Valentino has managed to do, being one of the first Italian brands to become internationally renowned. What happens when the creative director of a brand that represents a certain style leaves, is what Valentino's story is all about. It is about keeping that elegance that is tied to its cultural roots, excellence in each gowns quality and sophistication of a bold modern woman. The tradition of Valentino is what distinguishes it from other designers.

The duo is said to have embraced Valentino’s legacy whole heartedly through representing the never ending elegance and femininity, and still managing to react to contemporary influences. Their latest couture collection is the perfect example of this effort, even though they were immediately praised for keeping the distinct style alive. In fact, the designers have increased the brand’s survival in the future by adapting to changes in fashion and bringing the brand forward in its journey. Valentino has thrived for so long, winning people’s hearts over, it would be a shame to see it fall behind or dwell in the past.

Maria and Pier have a clear vision of what the future of Valentino looks like. In Maria’s mind it is “something which is about fragility and beauty, something light—a reaction to the time we’re in.” and she seems to be sensitive to influences from modern aspects and has a genuine Valentino like mindset. Pier on the other hand says that they have “worked hard to weave the past with our own style, to make it something modern with an edge” and seems to be more like the brains of the partnership, the edgier persona, which is what they have produced so far: a mixture of elegance and edge. What has to be kept in mind is that what used to be a one man fashion house is now a collaborative effort of two, which causes a different atmosphere and could potentially create collections with more variety.

The extraordinary balance of tradition and experimentation is possibly due to Maria’s and Pier’s suitability to work together as designers. Ever since having met at Fendi, their common vision and equal curiosity in developments of fashion have created a partnership where both parties get involved. They together have brought new winds to Valentino as the creative directors, appointed by Garavani himself, and are opening a new chapter in the Valentino story. As Valentino Garavani said, “Over the years I wrote only one story, the one of my style, where each collection represents a single chapter, with all of its emotions, ideas and motifs. The looks may change with every chapter, but the main characters are the same.”

So now that Garavani is gone, does the story continue? Do we feel nostalgic over rosso valentino, the signature red, or do we open our arms to the new ideas of the new designers? Valentino has not been a revolutionary designer in everyone’s eyes, but he has been the key maker of Italian style and brought people’s eyes on Italy to see its charm and intrinsic style. Even if it is like a story coming to an end that you have been dreading to finish, because you don’t want to say goodbye yet, the brand is not going anywhere. There is still a lot to see and experience from the new head designers of Valentino, and so far they have been proving themselves very talented and capable of taking the brand forward while keeping its legacy.

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