Pierpaolo Piccioli on Valentino’s new experiential Re-signify Part One Shanghai
Think of Valentino’s brand-new brand experience in Shanghai as the ultimate in semiotic chic from the Italian house staged in China’s biggest boomtown.
Entitled “Valentino: Re-signify Part One Shanghai,” it’s a multi-disciplinary display of photography, fine art, film and fashion in an exhibition designed as “a revision of the signs and codes of maison Valentino,” according to Pierpaolo Piccioli, creative director of the Rome-based house.
Roland Barthes couldn’t have put it any better.
“It’s about keeping the codes of the house open for today; and being be relevant for today. It’s more an experience than an exhibition, connecting the codes of Valentino to art and underground cinema. It’s about sharing a sensibility and not a lifestyle,” explained Piccioli to FashionNetwork.com on a Zoom call from Rome.
“We wanted an open project and a beginning of a different perspective. Opening our house to another world. Beginning with the birth of the house in 1960 to the very first Valentino red dress and arriving at accessories from the atelier, all the way to red carpet and daywear,” added Piccioli.
Re-signify is being staged in the city’s hottest new art institution, Power Station of Art, the site of the Shanghai Biennale, from December 19 to January 17. The space is divided up into galleries, chambers, a library, a Dungeon club and even an Empathy Room.
“Shanghai is a very far away culture. Our past much is less known in China than in Europe and the US, so it is great to present this concept in Shanghai,” said the designer, explaining the choice of location.
Highlights include Cao Pei’s video installation COSPlayers, where art cosplay bohemians meet Power Rangers; to Robby Müller’s multiple Polaroids, reimagined with back projections; to images of the house’s nerve centre in Rome, Palazzo Mignanelli.
While the library contains triangulations of the house’s varied archives – from Stanley Mouse Haight Ashbury visions and Sølve Sundsbø’s graphic photography to prints by founder Valentino Garvin or the Diary campaign shot by Piccioli.
All the way to a central Piazza, where a video shot by Nick Knight of hyper elongated haute couture dresses from the fall/winter 2020 collection, first seen in a phygital show in Cinecitta this summer, are projected. While scaffolding allows visitors to approach the out-of-scale dresses.
All the way to the Dungeon, replete with studs, the defining emblem of Valentino under Piccioli, and a meeting of what he calls “a distinctive and recurring feature that redefines and identifies today’s Valentino style, combining classical Rome with the rebelliousness of underground culture.”
Whole walls are covered in the house’s iconic rock-stud high heels, mules and sandals, set before silver mirror multi panel walls and images of studded Renaissance palaces in Rome.
“Ten years ago we first had the ideas of punkness to create a very important break in the codes of the house. And now in rules of the romance which you are seeing today. Our shoes can be seen as punk, but you also see rock studs on any Roman door. And Valentino is the only Roman couture house,” smiles the 53-year-old Piccioli, whose modern romantic style has been hugely influential in fashion the past half-decade.
He hopes to take a variant of this brand celebration – curated by Mariuccia Casadio and Jacopo Bedussi - on tour, though has not yet decided on the next location. The expo marks the first major event by Valentino in Shanghai since its epic runway show staged in a former cruise liner station on the Huangpu river, which coincided with the opening of a 700 square-meter flagship in the city centre.
China remains a vital market for Valentino, which a year ago opened another flagship in China, the hipster district of Sanlitun in Beijing. However, after several years of rapid growth, business has been sluggish internationally for the brand. Turnover in 2019 saw a tepid rise of 2.4% to €1.223 billion, leading to the departure of long-time CEO Stefano Sassi and his replacement by Jacopo Venturini in June.
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