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Maria Grazia Chiuri & Pier Paolo Piccioli

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Valentino’s creative directors spoke to Ana Santi after the designer label showed its menswear range at Pitti for the first time.

What’s the inspiration behind the autumn 12 menswear collection?

Maria Grazia Chiuri: The key idea is about couture because we want to translate [the elements of] couture into the main collection. We believe men have changed. They want tradition, but they want attitude, too, they want the right shape. There needs to be a balance between couture and sportswear.

The ankle-grazing trousers and no socks combination stood out – does this reflect the tradition-meets-attitude aesthetic?

Pier Paolo Piccioli: It reflects this idea of subversive elegance, of being very traditional, very couture but in a new, more subtle way. We didn’t want a sense of the dandy; there’s a new way to be elegant and effortless. You need to be cultured to understand the pieces.

We believe men today are obsessed with perfection and we want to give an aesthetic representation of this.

MGC: It’s a collection for a man who is not a show-off. It’s about personal elegance and personal beauty.

PPP: We wanted to maintain the authenticity of the pieces and make them desirable for men’s own [everyday] life.

MGC: You have to be able to [wear] the pieces in your own [everyday] life. They have to be commercial.

PPP: And when you see a new piece, you want that piece. It’s about desire.

You decided to show at Pitti for the first time this season as the event’s guest designer. What prompted that decision?

PPP: It’s the 50th anniversary of Valentino this year and it started here in Florence in the Sala Bianca [at the Palazzo Pitti] with a couture collection [Valentino’s first catwalk collection in 1962]. And those first collections in the 1960s are probably the ones we feel more close to now. They were very sharp, very clean, very minimal in a way. It was minimal couture and it’s a moment that is very close to menswear now. Pitti invited us to show here and we were honoured, of course.

Do you think there are strong differences between Italian and British fashion, and the male consumer within the two markets?

PPP: In general, men are the same.

MGC: They are, there’s no difference. No, it’s true!

PPP: Maybe English people are more brave, they embrace new shapes in London more easily. Maybe in Italy you need more time, but in London they have an open mind.

MGC: But [the attitude to fashion in] Rome is not so far away from London’s.

PPP: That’s true, the Romans are more Brick Lane-type people.

MGC: We love London.

PPP: Yes, we do. I remember when I was very young, and I would go to Camden Town to buy vintage. It was the place to go to where you could buy something sartorial at a cheap price.

  • Maria Grazia Chiuri & Pier Paolo Piccioli are creative directors at Valentino
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