Valentino’s American Dream

“New York is the city of hopes and dreams.” Pierpaolo Piccioli presents a pre-collection for the first time, recalling the jazz era, Harlem, the 1930’s, Nina Simone, Billy Holiday, the Cotton Club and Gospel. From floral embroidery, washed brocade and precious chemisier.

 

​ Backstage at the Valentino Pre-Fall 2017 show in New-York (Courtesy of PR)

 

The sky above New York comes into focus through the architectural skylights on the top floor of The Beekman. Looking up you catch a glance of the skyscrapers surrounding the historic hotel built at the end of the 18th Century in the Big Apple. This is the very same place chosen by Pierpaolo Piccioli as the setting for Valentino’s pre-collection to make its runway debut. The collection was revealed at an intimate show, soft music whispering the names of these imaginary women. “They are jazz women”, Piccioli explained to MFF, giving a nod to the moodboard featuring Nina Simone, Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald. But, the designer also had Edward Steichen’s 1955 exhibition, “The family of man” featuring 68 photographs from 68 different countries, in mind. The seductive voice of Nina Simone singing “Feeling Good” opened a potent show that flowed into 55 looks. Light flowers, prints, embroidery, applied to blouses that became new style staples, simple yet precious. “I like the idea of modesty, personal intimacy, not exhibitionism. Sensible. I am romantic,” continued the designer who added touches of everyday reality to the show. Boots with low heels that finished high on the leg. Two new bags of imposing dimensions. Dainty knitted bra tops worn as outer layers. Embroidered sneakers finished elongated silhouettes which mixed trouser and shirt combinations with long coats. Serpents on bags painted with floral emblems. Serpents that don’t bite dresses that add a light touch. Small, excitable, floating ruffles that added movement. From washed leather duffle coats and crochet appliqué, woven coats and brocade treated like denim. That long night like a dream in slow motion.

Verdict: A good attempt from Pierpaolo Piccioli, who showed he has a tangible, pulsating sensibility. Building a dream and applying it to eye-catching daywear, leaving a desire that feels like disco in the dark. It seduces the imagination, asking to be listened to again. (All Rights Reserved)

 

INTERVIEW/Pierpalo Piccioli: “The America of hopes and dreams”

 

Stefano Roncato: What was the inspiration behind your pre-collection debut in New York?

Pierpaolo Piccioli: The city itself, dreams and the hope that they’ll become a reality in America. I like the mood of the people who arrive, full of hope. America has always been the land of opportunity for all. Reacting positively to a difficult moment, something that makes you grow and become stronger. I thought of Edward Steichen’s exhibition, “The Family Man” which tells the story of man from birth to death, what they feel, their dreams.

SR: What do you like about this feeling?

PP: The idea of possibility. A person’s identity that is built from their feelings and their dreams. The feeling of belonging to a group. Harlem and the 1930’s, the Cotton Club, jazz that started as a form of expression for a small group and grew to become part of American culture. Billie Holiday, Nina Simone. Realities that start on the peripheries of society and become integrated, part of the American reality. 

SR: How is this translated in the collection?

PP: It is reflected in a sense of optimism for America. I wanted a feeling that evoked Harlem, the 1930’s, the gospel singing on Sundays. Groups and also individuals. In the collection there are lots of florals, delicate and created using three levels of print like paper in the 30’s, which was recycled. Traces of prints underneath with the latest reality printed on top. A sense of belonging, not just a superficial feeling. Lighthearted but a little profound.

SR: Does this represent a reaction to something going on at the moment?

PP: A pre-collection is now a fact of fashion and if you create fashion you have to tell the story of this current moment in history. I’m not political but I have values and I want them to come out in what I create. There has to be authenticity in my work and my work is my idea of beauty in the context of the world we’re living in.

 

​ Backstage at the Valentino Pre-Fall 2017 show in New-York (Courtesy of PR)

 

SR: Why did you choose the USA?

PP: It felt right like the right moment. Pre-collections are quite new to fashion. This wasn’t conceived as a big event but something more technical in relation to Paris. An experiment. We are thinking of always showing the pre-collection in New York. It’s like the Instagram stories I’ve started posting, an experiment.

SR: What are your expectations?

PP: That it expresses my dream. I feel lucky this is my job. New York is far removed from what I experienced when I was little. Fashion has given me a lot.

SR: Why did you choose The Beekman?

PP: I was looking for another type of place. A New York in which people worked for their dreams, not the one filled with bright lights but those that dreamed, so it had to be downtown. I found the perfect atmosphere, one of the first buildings of the 1800’s, one of the buildings that forms part of the famous skyline you see when you arrive by sea. It welcomes you with your expectations.

SR: Can you name one of your favorite places?

PP: Definitely the East Village, the real part, authentic like Humans of New York, telling a story.

SR: Why did you choose jazz women?

PP: They are women who transformed their sensitivity and fragility into strength. Exposing themselves. They are women who changed perceptions of imperfection, the rawness. Mistakes are what make us feel human.

SR: How do you feel?

PP: Feeling good... Like the song by Nina Simone. (All Rights Reserved)

 

By Stefano Roncato - MFF Magazine for Fashion
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