Valentino calls on artists for couture collaboration in Venice –

Venice has been a much quieter place since the start of the global pandemic, but the city has opened a new chapter as a favorite place for fashion houses to hold their cycle of catwalks. Saint Laurent launched its new menswear collection last week and was quickly followed by Valentino’s Fall / Winter 2021 couture collection presented in a spectacular setting in the city’s historic arsenal.

Valentino did not fail to show in the fashion capital – they launched another couture collection in Paris last week – but showing in Venice is at the heart of creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli’s vision of post-pandemic identity. of the brand. Art is essential to the Valentino brand and process. Venice has long been a hub for contemporary art, home to a series of rotating biennials that take place each year at the Arsensale and its neighboring pavilions.

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Piccioli’s process reveals his distinctive approach to art and fashion collaborations. The designer called on a group of artists to produce works that match the label’s aesthetic. “I didn’t want to do the couture version of the museum t-shirt,” Piccioli said. Vogue. He wanted to create a hub of creativity and inspiration. Piccioli chooses 18 young artists from a list of 60 names spotted by the writer and curator Gianluigi Ricuperati. Piccioli and Ricuperati had started working together several years ago in anticipation of this new form of collaboration. Jamie Nares, Patricia Treib, Francis Offman, Benni Bosetto, Andrea Respino, Wu Rui and Alessandro Teoldi were among the 18 artists chosen at the start of the pandemic.


Valentino Fall / Winter 2021 couture collection

“It wasn’t a typical fashion collaboration,” Ricuperati said. “Because it was peer-to-peer.” Instead of a cut-and-paste approach to artist-designer collaborations that have been typical of the fashion industry’s past, Piccioli has exchanged sketches and proposals from each of the artists remotely throughout the pandemic. He responded, in turn, by reinterpreting the works in his creations.

“You have to imagine Valentino Des Ateliers as a concert for two distinct worlds,” Ricuperati said in a statement released by Valentino, “painting and Haute Couture, contemporary art and sartorial art”. Picciloi and Ricuperati emphasize painting, seeing it as the natural counterpart of couture, the most individualized and laborious garment in fashion. Couture is also the place where the most abstract visions of a designer are often realized.

This process was best illustrated in the collaboration between Jamie Nares and the fashion house. by Narès It’s raining in Naples (2003) was one of the most visible paintings in the collection. Nares paints with a distinctive broad brush stroke that appears to hover in space. Piccioli used his Rome-based workshop to make custom screens to hand-imprint the brushstrokes onto the fabric of the dress. As is typical of tailoring high fashion clothing, the process took 700 grueling hours.

Piccioli and the house’s workshop used these screens to create a large oxblood red and white dress, the shape of which is reminiscent of papal robes (perhaps the look is a nod to Vatican history). and the brand’s Roman origins.) The dress Piccioli chose was so striking. to present it as the final 84e look, ending a procession of billowing chartreuse and fuchsia dresses, alongside feathered headdresses that seemed to float as the models passed by.

Other standout pieces on the show included a light blue sequined dress inspired by Wu Rui’s photographs. Tissue (2021) and A piece of China (2021.) The dress was presented under a chiffon cape printed with images of the Milanese artist’s works. Italian artist Alessandro Teoldi’s 2019 painting of silhouettes served as a model for another loose red dress; and Benni Bosetto painted abstract figures directly onto the stitched design of a cashmere ensemble.


Valentino Fall / Winter 2021 couture collection

The clothes were presented under the arcades of the Gaggiandre, a 16e shipyard of the century. Designed by Renaissance architect Jacopo Sansovino, it was once one of the city’s greatest production centers, when Venice was a maritime empire. The track of the show wrapped around the dock of the shipyard, creating a hovering effect above the water of the canal. Adding to the unreality of the presentation, audiences were asked to wear head-to-toe white to better blend in with the background.

Now Valentino has used the ancient site as a place of rebirth. “It was the only place in the world to present such a collection,” Piccioli said in a statement, “a context where nothing can be added or subtracted.” The bare setting was crucial for the collaboration. Venice is currently hosting the Architecture Biennale, for which architects from around the world have installed large-scale projects focused on designs for a post-covid future. Nearby, there’s a sprawling exhibit of Bruce Nauman’s video installations at Palazzo Grassi Punta della Dogana, but many of the town’s squares are still nearly empty as tourist foot traffic has hit an all-time high.

Valentino is not the only label looking for collaborations in the art world to present its new products. Saint Laurent Creative Director Anthony Vacarello has also tapped artists like Vanessa Beecroft and Helmut Lang for collaborative projects in recent years. In Venice the night before, Saint Laurent launched a large-scale installation commissioned by multimedia artist Doug Aitken on the nearly empty island of La Certosa, which is home to only post-war brick ruins. Overlooking the Venetian Lagoon, the colossal mirrored structure served as the stage for models launching the brand’s latest menswear line.

During the pandemic, Piccioli embraced the idea of ​​freedom, aiming to cross the boundaries of tailoring beyond sartorial conventions around gender, social archetypes and functionality that typically dictate the production of the industry of the fashion. “Fashion is linked to the body and to movement,” describes the house in a press release. “Art, however, is completely free from all constraints.”

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