Fashion / Fashion News

Pierpaolo Piccioli’s best moments from 25 years at Valentino

Pierpaolo Piccioli Valentino

I let out an audible gasp when I read the news that Pierpaolo Piccioli would exit Valentino after 25 years at the Italian House. It's a departure few saw coming. On March 23, WWD broke the news and shortly after Valentino confirmed it. At the time of writing, no successor has been named.

The 56-year-old Roman designer joined Valentino in 1999 where, along with Maria Grazia Chiuri, he climbed the ranks boosting the brand’s accessory category. Together they ascended the ladder, becoming joint creative directors of accessories, and in 2008, creative directors of Valentino. When Chiuri left Valentino to helm Dior in 2016, Piccioli became the sole creative director, a post he has held until now.

Piccioli's tenure at Valentino will be remembered for the way he seized modernity; welcoming diversity of all kinds, and onboarding a roster of new ambassadors such as Florence Pugh, F1 driver Lewis Hamilton and Zendaya, while working with names like Rihanna and FKA Twigs. He played with a distinct colour palette, most notably the shade of piping hot pink he lovingly christened Pink PP after himself, feathers and Altorilievo cut outs.

While the creative director has been the source of many memorable moments over the years, below are some that spring to the RUSSH hive mind. From Pink PP to a couture collection that proves the only barrier to size inclusivity is a willingness to do so, here are some of our favourites.

Welcoming Zendaya as an ambassador


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Zendaya and Valentino have had a fruitful partnership. The Italian Maison signed Zendaya on as a brand ambassador in 2020 and has since dressed the budding actor at both the 2021 and 2022 Oscars, with help from her longtime stylist Law Roach. In 2021, the star wore a canary yellow cut-out gown accompanied by $6 million worth of Bulgari jewels, while in 2022 Zendaya stepped out in a custom two-piece shirt and sequin look. While Zendaya has now switched allegiances to Louis Vuitton, the moments she has created with Valentino – like the satin ball gown she wore to the 2022 Emmys – will stay in our mind forever.


Valentino Spring Summer 2022 Couture


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To its detriment and the aid of its allure, fashion prides itself on exclusivity. This is especially true for couture. But for the Italian Maison's Spring 2022 collection, Pierpaolo Piccioli emphasised the meticulous craft possible with couture by focusing on form and fit as applied to bodies outside sample size. Then Piccioli continued this practice for couture collections that followed.


Dressing Florence Pugh


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Of all Valentino's ambassadors, it's safe to say that its relationship with Florence Pugh will be a defining memory of Pierpaolo Piccioli's reign. From the star-spangled dress and purple set she wore amidst the Don't Worry Darling drama at Venice Film Festival or the sheer nipple-baring pink dress Pugh wore to Valentino's Fall 2022 Couture show.


Valentino Fall Winter 2022


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Perhaps one of Pierpaolo Piccioli's biggest impacts was his skillful use of colour – especially one so striking it warrants its own name. Yes, I'm talking the fuchsia Piccioli introduced as a blanket palette during his Fall Winter 2022 collection for Valentino.


Dressing Rihanna for the 2023 Met Gala


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At the 2023 Met Gala, which operated under the theme of Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty, Rihanna turned up even later than usual, missing the livestream entirely, as a Valentino bride. It was a perfect play, especially since her presence is the most-talked about thing in the lead up to the annual charity gala. Piccioli's team won the night, dressing the star in a white gown that worshipped her baby bump and an accompanying flower-laden cape.


Glorious pregnancy dressing


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Like the aforementioned gown Rihanna wore to the 2023 Met Gala, Piccioli and his team have offered a new formula for pregnant women dressing for the red carpet. Rather than cover their bumps, the creative director honours them with deliberate cut outs and bold colours, as we witnessed with the red gown from Valentino Spring 2023 couture that Suki Waterhouse wore to the 2023 Emmys.


Valentino Spring Summer 2024


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Pierpaolo Piccioli captivate the industry when he debuted his Spring Summer 2024 collection for Valentino at the École Nationale Supérieure Des Beaux-Arts. The colour scheme was simple and rich; single colour looks of rich green, oxblood, white, grey and black. Most notably, the collection feature his distinctive Altorilievo textile technique, giving fabric a 3D, high-relief form. Picciolo also staged a performance by FKA Twigs, which extended the motif of the body.

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Image: @ppiccioli