Since longtime design partner Maria Grazia Chiuri jumped ship to Dior, Pierpaolo Piccoli has been going at it alone at Valentino, where he shared the creative director role with Chiuri from 2008 to 2016. The press has been receptive to his one-man-(plus design team)-show – far more so than with Chirui’s Dior.
Their respective solo debuts were highly anticipated and have been much discussed. As noted by the New York Times’ Elisabetta Povoledo in October 2016, “The design divorce of one of the industry’s most successful teams — who were responsible for catapulting Valentino to billion-dollar status — caught fashion-watchers by surprise, sparking rumors of in-house squabbles. There was much hand-wringing of the what-is-Batman-without-Robin or Sherlock-without-Watson (or Angelina-without-Brad) kind.”
Piccoli has spoken highly of his new(ish) post, telling the Times: “It seems to me it’s all a bit more fluid, perhaps,” he said of working without Ms. Chiuri. When they worked as a team, he said, they discussed decisions ahead of time, “so they were filtered, or at least already shared or elaborated,” he said. Now, it’s a direct line from Mr. Piccioli to his team. “The exchange is immediate, it’s direct.”
Maybe that explains the positive treatment of his work by the fashion press. “Pierpaolo Piccoli has ensured that Valentino is in good hands with the first collection he unveiled as solo creative director,” stated one publication on the heels of Piccoli’s first solo Valentino collection.
Vogue’s Sarah Mower wrote in her review of the Spring/Summer 2017 couture collection: “It was a change in the silhouette, a shift toward purity and simplicity, and with the long chiffon scarves trailing out behind as the models walked, the dresses were astoundingly beautiful in motion.” She questioned: “Will this new look of Piccioli’s be enough to reset women’s dreams about eveningwear?” The answer: “Highly likely.”
Meanwhile, the industry’s most honest critic, Cathy Horyn, penned something of a Chiuri takedown in her review of the Dior Fall/Winter 2017 collection – Chirui’s second for the fabled fashion house. “Her designs did not pull weight,” read one excerpt.
“My beef with Chiuri, and why I now question whether she’s the right person to lead Dior, is that she seems exceedingly doctrinaire. If she wants to give the brand a sportier look, there are less generic options than last season’s fencing jackets or this season’s loose workwear style or a crew neck with a sheer, layered skirt,” read another.
The final nail in the coffin: “In short, Chiuri’s collections do not surprise at a level you expect of Dior. That may not matter to her, but it should matter to her bosses.”