Strokes of Genius
Tatler Philippines|October 2021
Valentino’s Pierpaolo Piccioli has long been beloved for pushing fashion forward with his magical yet meaningful couture. This season, he transcends the craft with the help of 16 contemporary artists
Rosana Lai

Don’t call Pierpaolo Piccioli an artist. He insists.

“It’s provocative to say this, I know, but fashion is not art to me,” the designer says in a hushed, thoughtful tone, his Rs curling through a thick Italian accent. “Fashion needs to work with the body, there is a practical purpose, but art is free from constraint.”

Piccioli is perched across from me on an ornate sofa, wearing his black hoodie-and-slacks uniform, square Raybans firmly planted on his nose as he swings a sneakered foot over his knee. He continues, “Both are languages with which you can express yourself and your values. Fashion is my language.” On a simmering July afternoon, we are at a preview in Paris, beneath the chandeliered halls of a grand salon in Place Vendôme, several gowns dotted around us, each almost camouflaged against a corresponding artwork. I imagine it is what the inside of Piccioli’s head might look like.

The pieces, from cashmere capes to majestic ballgowns, are part of his latest couture collection, Valentino Des Ateliers, for which he enlisted 16 contemporary artists from around the world with the help of curator Gianluigi Ricuperati to partake in an “exchange of ideas”; he sees the work as more than “just” a collaboration. “I didn’t want to do an ‘artsy’ collection; I wanted to do a collection that’s inspired by a conversation between humans, that’s about empathy, about connection—especially during a time last year where there was no connection—and about love,” he says.

If this all sounds a touch saccharine, know that Piccioli, who has made Valentino synonymous with unabashed romanticism, is sincere. Since becoming creative director (for eight years from 2008 alongside Maria Grazia Chiuri, now artistic director of womenswear at Christian Dior, and solo since 2016), Piccioli’s ready-to-wear has had fans lusting over his indulgent designs—the Rockstud, a design he popularised on Valentino accessories, or the menswear collection he produced with Undercover’s Jun Takahashi featuring pieces printed with lines of poetry come to mind. But couture is where Piccioli’s vision thrives unfettered. “To me, couture is a philosophy and approach about people, it’s not just about technique.” This is something reflected in every element of his work, even down to the appellation: as per a tradition Piccioli started, each couture look is named after the seamstress who made it.

As such, Piccioli wasn’t interested in simply printing works of art on garments but instead sought to bring art to life through fashion. “In order to do this, I had to catch the spirit of the artist, not only their colours or the shapes of their brushstrokes,” he says. He points behind the sofa to a blood-red ballgown featuring what resembles a collage of arms embracing. The piece was created with artist Alessandro Teoldi, whose original artwork was recycled from old aeroplane blankets. Piccioli therefore chose to recreate the shapes with archival fabrics of the house, including those used by Valentino Garavani himself. “To me, [this work] is a story of how memories are part of our present,” says Piccioli.

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM TATLER PHILIPPINESView All

'Tis the Season

These beauty-inspired advent calendars are bigger and better than ever

2 mins read
Tatler Philippines
December 2021

Luxury Redefined

Ayala Malls Greenbelt 3 has undergone a major facelift unveiling a world-class shopping destination that’s sure to be the talk of the town

4 mins read
Tatler Philippines
December 2021

Tatler Scene

Three industry experts on their outlook for 2022, culinarians speak about Filipino cuisine at the Asian Culinary Exchange, and major retail therapy at the repurposed Greenbelt 3

1 min read
Tatler Philippines
December 2021

Minute Details

Expanding its vast repertoire, Patek Philippe unveils three new versions of chronographs with additional complications this year

3 mins read
Tatler Philippines
December 2021

What Will the Next Year Look Like

Industry experts Gigi Montinola, Cielito Habito and Edsel Salvana tell us what to expect in 2022

4 mins read
Tatler Philippines
December 2021

Family Values, Timeless Heirlooms

Zelda Kienle and Jessica Kienle Maxwell share what they value, and what to impart from one generation to the next

2 mins read
Tatler Philippines
December 2021

Ice Ice Baby

Can an ice bath for your face really work wonders for your complexion?

6 mins read
Tatler Philippines
December 2021

Day' Til Night

Packed with good-for-the-skin ingredients, you won’t have to worry (too much) when you forget to remove these products after a long night of free-flow champagne

3 mins read
Tatler Philippines
December 2021

A Taste of Home

This 2021, the Asian Culinary Exchange shifted its focus to Filipino cuisine; here’s what our leading culinarians had to say

4 mins read
Tatler Philippines
December 2021

Seat of Power

The latest member of the 5-series, BMW 520i Sport, highlights precision in driving dynamics and a powerful engine

6 mins read
Tatler Philippines
October 2021
RELATED STORIES

Pierpaolo Piccioli Pushing Fashion Forward With His Magical Yet Meaningful Couture

Valentino’s Pierpaolo Piccioli has long been beloved for pushing fashion forward with his magical yet meaningful couture. This season, he transcends the craft with the help of 16 contemporary artists

7 mins read
Tatler Singapore
September 2021

Strokes of Genius

Valentino’s Pierpaolo Piccioli has long been beloved for pushing fashion forward with his magical yet meaningful couture. This season, he transcends the craft with the help of 16 contemporary artists

7 mins read
Tatler Malaysia
September 2021

THE PICCIOLI PRINCIPLE

For Pierpaolo Piccioli, creativity flourishes through the spirit of humanism, with an eye on evolution and an openness to dialogue. Tese ideals, among others, are what make him the industry’s most romantic visionary. In a Vogue India exclusive, he talks to Priyanka Khanna about creative fulfillment

7 mins read
VOGUE India
March 2021

THE NEW MASTER

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

9 mins read
InStyle Australia
June 2020

Adut

Fashion-world darling and Valentino muse, ADUT AKECH continues to bolster her supermodel status

2 mins read
InStyle Australia
December 2019

The Thinker

Valentino creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli, the great thinker behind the Roman fashion house, looks to sculpture to inform his poetic vision

6 mins read
Harper's Bazaar India
October 2019

The Thinker

Valentino creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli, the great mind behind the Roman fashion house, looks to sculpture to inform his beautifully poetic vision.

6 mins read
Harper's Bazaar Australia
November 2019