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Rome wasn’t built in a day. And neither was the career of Pierpaolo Piccioli at Valentino. His love  affair with the Roman brand has lasted 25 years, and while they are parting ways now, together  they have created some of the most emotional and captivating fashion moments of the last  decade. “Not all stories have a beginning or an end, some live a kind of eternal present that  shines so bright that it won’t produce any shadows,” affirmed Piccioli.  

Valentino, a brand founded in 1960 by Valentino Garavani and Giancarlo Giammetti, has always  symbolized the epitome of sophistication and elegance. Valentino understood women’s bodies,  creating feminine garments through his unparalleled draping and figure-flattering shapes. Piccoli  noted this and made sure to always honor the emperor through feminine silhouettes that were  often reinvented through voluptuous shapes and novel cuts. The Valentino woman has always  been strong, something that was proven through the fierceness of the iconic Red Valentino. 

From humble beginnings at Nettuno, an Italian resort city close to the Italian capital, Piccioli  started his career in 1989 as an accessory designer at Fendi, where he worked with Maria Grazia  Chiuri. They had met through a mutual friend in the early 80s, and the brand marked the  beginning of a two-decade-long partnership.  

Valentino Garavani wanted to boost the accessories category of his brand, assigning the task to  the pair in 1999. Chiuri and Piccioli successfully revived the brand’s eyewear and handbag  collections. Four years later, in 2003, they were put in charge of designing for Red Valentino, the  brand’s diffusion line. 

In 2009 Chiuri and Piccioli were appointed to succeed Alessandra Farneti in what seemed to be  an obvious choice after her year-long tenure. Alessandra Farneti had taken the creative realms of  the firm after Valentino had stepped down in 2008. Their years as co-creative directors were  highly applauded and signified a new beginning for the brand, which became a red-carpet  favorite.  

These years were marked by a romantic approach to the heritage of the brand, where fairy-tale like volumes took over the runway while the delicate embroideries and taffetas added the delicate  touch. Their designs were theatrical and often inspired by art movements or Rome; the city that  saw the brand born. The rich ornate embellishments or the tailored sheer resonated with the  values of the brand, which has always been associated with character and femininity. Chiuri  departed the brand in 2016, when she became creative director of Dior.  

PiccIoli, became then the sole creative lead of the brand, allowing him to leave his mark on the  brand’s history through his lenses. Piccoli’s vision showed a new Valentino woman, less romantic,  but more theatrical, and with a redefined but favorable femininity. Pierpaolo created the 21st-

century Valentino woman, which found a face on Zendaya, the claimed actress and ambassador  of the brand. The brand gifted us moments such as the Beyoncé Vogue cover in the Smithsonian  or Rihanna’s bridal Valentino look at the Met Gala. His collections paid attention to the changes  the world is undergoing at the moment, staying true to the brand and himself. Proving to be a  commercial success, the brand revenue was estimated to be over 1.4 billion euros in 2022. The  ultra-femininity of Piccioli’s collections was ethereal and whimsical yet nonredundant. But all the  good comes to an end, and Pierpaolo is departing the brand he has served for more than 25  years. 

“I’ve been in this company for 25 years, and for 25 years I’ve existed and I’ve lived with the  people who have woven the weaves of this beautiful story that is mine and ours… Thanks to Mr  Valentino and Giancarlo Giammetti who have blessed me with their trust, and thanks to every  single person who made this possible in one way or another. It was a privilege and an honor to  share my journey, and my dreams, with you.”  

The creative director posted on Instagram an emotional video of the brand’s workers saying  goodbye under the caption “Non vogliamo essere subito gia’ cosi’ senza sogni”. And we can only  say: Farewell Pierpaolo, we will dream about your Valentino.

Words: @edugilhurta