Valentino Sitting Out Menswear, Couture Shows

MILAN — Valentino on Monday gave an indication of the brand’s succession timing.

Following the exit on Friday of Pierpaolo Piccioli as the brand’s creative director, the Rome-based house said it will not present its menswear and haute couture fashion shows in June. Both collections have generally and historically been shown in Paris, with the exception of the COVID-19 years.

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Paris Men’s Fashion Week is scheduled for June 18 to 23 while the haute couture shows are set to take place from June 24 to 27. Usually a week separates the men’s shows and couture in summer, but French fashion’s governing body moved forward the dates of the fall 2024 edition of couture to avoid a clash with preparations for the Olympic Games, due to run from July 26 to Aug. 11, and the Paralympic Games, from Aug. 28 to Sept. 8.

Piccioli has already exited Valentino, making his fall 2024 all-black collection shown during Paris Fashion Week his swan song for the brand.

“Creativity will continue to lead the company as a key pillar, shaping new future collections in both women’s and men’s ready-to-wear and haute couture, elevating the brand’s DNA, its iconic codes, and unrivaled Italian heritage,” Valentino said in a statement Monday.

The fact that the men’s and couture collections will not be designed by a team, further developed and completed based on Piccioli’s initial ideas, is telling, indicating the arrival of a designer who is free to start working soon on the women’s collection and who may want a clean slate.

Valentino has said that Piccioli’s successor would be named soon, which points to some speed in the process.

On Friday, WWD was the first to report that Piccioli was exiting the Rome-based couture house based on information from market sources, who also believe that former Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele will succeed him and is thick in talks and negotiating a contract with Valentino.

Michele abruptly exited Gucci in November 2022, and his noncompete is said to expire this month. Valentino needs a designer pronto to avoid sitting out too many seasons, so it is conceivable the first collection by Piccioli’s successor will be for women’s and bow for spring 2025. Michele’s first collection for Gucci under the lead of then-chairman and chief executive officer Marco Bizzarri in 2015 was assembled in only a few days, following the sudden exit of his predecessor Frida Giannini a week earlier, but this time around, it would be harder for him to improvise a collection as he did in 2015, sources contend.

“Back then, we can say he had nothing to lose, it was a gamble, but now he is a celebrity designer, the first collection for Valentino must be perfect, a hit,” said one source.

Sources say couture has always been Michele’s dream and that menswear is less in his comfort zone, “so it makes sense he would not want to start at Valentino with a menswear collection.”

Piccioli was named sole creative director of Valentino in July 2016, following the departure of Maria Grazia Chiuri to join Dior.

Chiuri and Piccioli first worked together at Fendi for 10 years. In 1999, Valentino Garavani selected the designers to boost his brand’s accessories category, which they did, rejuvenating that division. They were promoted to creative directors of accessories at Valentino when Alessandra Facchinetti was assigned the same title for rtw after Garavani retired in 2007. In 2008, they succeeded Facchinetti as creative directors of the brand.

While highly respectful of Garavani and the heritage of Valentino — in particular emphasizing the brand’s couture — Piccioli embraced a more diverse and inclusive approach, bringing a younger spirit to the maison with a new perspective, for example choosing as Di.Vas brand ambassadors — an acronym that stands for Different Values — Formula 1 champion Lewis Hamilton or Suga, of boy band BTS.

With his influential designs, he introduced daring volumes and colors — including the PP Pink new Pantone shade; developed more daywear looks, and dabbled with streetwear.

Michele and Piccioli share a strong point of view and have been influential with the respective brands they helmed, each with their own aesthetics. Michele made Gucci a major influence in fashion again and his gender-fluid, inclusive and romantic spirit influenced a slew of other designers and catered to a younger and more diverse customer.

After his exit from Gucci in November 2022 as creative director, Michele’s potential future in fashion has been the subject of endless speculation for basically all of the last year. His name was linked to Fendi (and sources confirm talks were held with the Rome-based house), Bulgari and Givenchy. What links these brands is that they are all under the LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton umbrella, and it has been easily assumed Michele would turn to Gucci parent Kering’s rival for his next step — someone even daring to associate him with Dior, despite the fact that Chiuri appears to be safely positioned at the helm of that French brand.

In fact, since Kering has a 30 percent stake in Valentino’s parent Mayhoola, some may wonder if Michele would want to work again for that French group, but sources say it is Rachid Mohamed Rachid, CEO of Mayhoola, and Jacopo Venturini, CEO of Valentino, who are eager for the designer to succeed Piccioli.

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