End of an Era: A Look at Valentino’s Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli

By Kati Vereshaka, Epoch Times
July 7, 2016 Updated: July 7, 2016

In losing Maria Grazia Chiuri, fashion house Valentino has lost one of its golden geese. The split of designer pair Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli has created seismic waves in the world of high fashion, and the ripples will soon be felt at Christian Dior.

The announcement on the Valentino website, in black and white under the photo of Piccioli, looking rather somber and a little defiant, read like the end of an era: “Maria Grazia Chiuri leaves her role as Co-Creative Director after 17 years with the brand and 8 in her role as Co-Creative Director to pursue a new professional experience. Valentino nominates Pierpaolo Piccioli sole Creative Director of the Maison.” 

Pierpaolo Piccoli, Franca Sozzani and Maria Grazia Chiuri  attend the Fendi Roma 90 Years Anniversary Welcome Cocktail at Palazzo Carpegna on July 7, 2016 in Rome, Italy.  (Photo by Victor Boyko/Getty Images for FENDI)
Pierpaolo Piccoli, Franca Sozzani and Maria Grazia Chiuri attend the Fendi Roma 90 Years Anniversary Welcome Cocktail at Palazzo Carpegna on July 7, 2016 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Victor Boyko/Getty Images for FENDI)

The queen has moved on. Long live the king.

Reuters reported in late June that Christian Dior is set to announce that Maria Grazia Chiuri is joining the French fashion house, making Chiuri the first woman creative director in the company’s 70-year history.

Valentino fans and critics will be looking back at their work and undoubtedly wondering whether this means the end of the Valentino fairy tale or the beginning of two new ones.

The pair were named creative directors for the fashion house after Valentino Garavani retired in 2007. Together they not only re-invented the Valentino look but brought the focus back onto Italian heritage and translated it into a modern, relatable style imbued with a sense of wonder, poetry, and art.

 A model walks the runway during the Valentino Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2016-2017 show as part of Paris Fashion Week on July 6, 2016 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
A model walks the runway during the Valentino Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2016-2017 show as part of Paris Fashion Week on July 6, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

“There is a new client. Couture is where you can get to your dreams,” Piccioli told Vogue just one year ago, after the designers were named 2015 recipients of CFDA Fashion Awards’ International Award.

Chiuri and Piccioli took the richness of baroque brocade and gave it a youthful lightness. Their studies of contrasts—the sheer and the opaque, the hard and the soft, leather and lace, the sculptural and the graphic—have had us enthralled. Even in their ready to wear collections the designer duo had fashioned a youthful opulence for which the Valentino brand has come to be known.

A model walks the runway during the Valentino Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2016-2017 show as part of Paris Fashion Week on July 6, 2016 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
A model walks the runway during the Valentino Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2016-2017 show as part of Paris Fashion Week on July 6, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

Their appeal was wide. Everyone from Keira Knightley and Reese Witherspoon, to Nicki Minaj, Gwyneth Paltrow, Rihanna, and even the usually minimalist Tilda Swinton, have worn Valentino on the red carpet. 

Their last collaboration—the 2016 Fall couture collection shown this week—was an Italian high-fashion take on Shakespearean characters that, in a somewhat elliptical turn of theatrical events, often inhabit Renaissance Italy.

White starched ruff collars, regal fur capelets, were paired with black riding pants. Black velvet played its part, and so did the maiden’s maxi gowns in transparent, soft pastels—every heroine more demure than the next, yet with a touch of Valentino subversion, all equipped with riding boots underneath.

A model walks the runway during the Valentino Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2016-2017 show as part of Paris Fashion Week on July 6, 2016 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
A model walks the runway during the Valentino Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2016-2017 show as part of Paris Fashion Week on July 6, 2016 in Paris, France. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

At the time when Christian Dior created the new look, he did it to give femininity back to women. If Chiuri takes the reigns of Dior, she will be taking on Dior’s legacy while all eyes will be on her ability to pull the same hat trick as she and her design partner achieved at Valentino, and with it, pull the French fashion house out of stagnation. 

A model walks the runway during the Valentino Womenswear Spring/Summer 2016 preview during Paris Fashion Week on Oct. 6, 2015 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
A model walks the runway during the Valentino Womenswear Spring/Summer 2016 preview during Paris Fashion Week on Oct. 6, 2015 in Paris, France. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

A model walks the runway during the Valentino Womenswear Spring/Summer 2016 preview as part of Paris Fashion Week on Oct. 6, 2015 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
A model walks the runway during the Valentino Womenswear Spring/Summer 2016 preview as part of Paris Fashion Week on Oct. 6, 2015 in Paris, France. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

Valentino traveled back to the pre-Raphaelite Renaissance, leaving his Princess in leather gladiator sandals and a long sleeved dress. Crispy white contrasts with the black belt to make a bold statement. She loves to play a lute, paint, and study about the principles of life. (Getty Images)
Valentino traveled back to the pre-Raphaelite Renaissance, leaving his Princess in leather gladiator sandals and a long sleeved dress. Crispy white contrasts with the black belt to make a bold statement. She loves to play a lute, paint, and study about the principles of life. (Getty Images)

A model walks the runway during the Valentino show as part of Paris Fashion Week - Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2014-2015 at Hotel Salomon de Rothschild on July 9, 2014 in Paris, France. (Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
A model walks the runway during the Valentino show as part of Paris Fashion Week – Haute Couture Fall/Winter 2014-2015 at Hotel Salomon de Rothschild on July 9, 2014 in Paris, France. (Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)

 

Cape Crusaders - Valentino, Paris Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2014–2015, March 4. (Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
Cape Crusaders – Valentino, Paris Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2014–2015, March 4. (Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)