Established in 1960 by legendary fashion designer Valentino Garavani and his business partner Giancarlo Giammetti, Valentino S.p.A. recently celebrated an iconic cornerstone – its 50th anniversary – that further consecrates its heritage and success story.
A major player on the fashion scene, Valentino continues to move its storied legacy forward with the design aesthetic of designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli.
One of the most storied brands in the world, Valentino offers a wide range of luxury products from Haute Couture and Prêt-à-Porter to an extensive accessories collection that includes bags, shoes, small leather goods, belts, eyewear, silks and perfumes.
The brand is available in over 90 countries thanks to a capillary retail network charted out over the decades of 160 Valentino directly-operated stores located in the most elegant shopping streets in the world as well as in over 1300 points of sale.
In October 2008, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli were named Valentino Creative Directors, a choice that proved to be fruitful and insightful move as the design duo have been credited with rejuvenating the brand via highly-successful and well-received collections that stayed true to the brand’s legacy of half a century while moving the design aesthetic forward with designs that are at once feminine and contemporary.
The two designers were appointed by Stefano Sassi, CEO of Valentino S.p.A., at the helm of Valentino since 2006 whose stewardship has been instrumental in enhancing the brand’s relevance and future potential.
Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli, who had worked under Valentino Garavani’s for over a decade, contributing to the international success of the fledgling accessories project, displayed all the best assets to thrive an innate sense of leadership, a corporate-centric approach and an extremely talented in-house design team.
The duo debuted with their first Haute Couture collection in Paris in January 2009, demonstrating the ability to fully understand and interpret the Valentino world, a vision that was applauded unanimously. Hollywood stars, socialites and fashion leaders were immediately wooed by their creations.
Six months later, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli consecrated their success with the July 2009 Haute Couture collection, which also fully expressed their vision for the Valentino woman: an unconventional idea of femininity and of extreme elegance that becomes a way of being, a dichotomy of a fragile yet dangerous nature mixed with an element of uniqueness and distinction.
THE COMPANY TODAY
In July 2012, Mayhoola for Investments S.P.C., an investment vehicle backed by a major private investor group from Qatar, entered into an agreement with Red & Black Lux S.a.r.l. (a company indirectly controlled by the Permira Funds in partnership with the Marzotto family) for the acquisition of the entire stake capital of Valentino Fashion Group S.p.A. (VFG).
Through the acquisition of VFG, Mayhoola for Investments acquired Valentino S.p.A. and the M Missoni license business, while MCS Marlboro Classics was carved-out from VFG. Red & Black continues to own a majority stake in Hugo Boss, which was not part of the transaction. The Permira Funds, in partnership with the Marzotto family, acquired control of VFG through Red & Black in 2007, as part of a wider transaction which included Hugo Boss.
A representative of Mayhoola for Investments cited the unique creativity and undisputed prestige of the Valentino brand as a strong incentive for the acquisition. “We were impressed by the work of the two Creative Directors, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli, and by the management team led by Stefano Sassi. Their ability to blend the aesthetic values of the founder, Valentino Garavani, with a contemporary and sophisticated vision, has been instrumental in enhancing the brand’s relevance and establishing a platform with significant future potential. Our vision is to back management for the long term to exploit the full potential of this exciting brand. We believe Valentino is ideally suited to form the basis for a global luxury goods powerhouse”.
Stefano Sassi, CEO of Valentino, commented: “We are delighted with this development. During the past few years, despite swings in the luxury markets, the company has operated with great intensity and remained focused on maximizing the potential of the Valentino brand. This effort should drive a 60% increase in revenues from 2009 to 2012. Our new shareholder will help us to reach our full potential”.
STEFANO SASSI – CEO
Stefano Sassi is Chief Executive Officer of Valentino S.p.A.
Born in Varese, Italy, in 1960, Stefano Sassi joined Valentino in December 2006 at a time that coincided with the departure of Valentino Garavani and Giancarlo Giammetti, which took place in September 2007, after the celebratory bash of the Maison’s 45th anniversary in Rome.
Stefano Sassi immediately became a pivotal figure in plotting the future of the storied house, ably steering the company through turbulence and overseeing the smooth transition of ownership and design.
The impressive work carried out in the recent years and the new vision for the brand led to its acquisition by Mayhoola for Investments in July 2012. The agreement was signed between Mayhoola for Investments, the investment vehicle backed by a private investor group from Qatar, and Red & Black Lux Sarl, a company indirectly controlled by Permira Funds in partnership with the Marzotto family.
“Permira allowed us to execute a medium-term industrial plan that we carried out successfully notwithstanding the difficult economic conditions. Mayhoola for Investments guarantees continuity from both a design and management perspective as we are dealing with an investor with an ambitious long-term vision for the brand,” said Stefano Sassi.
Stefano Sassi’s stewardship has earmarked a new era for Valentino, one of growth and profitability, in part spurred by a younger customer base. He also strategized a coherent distribution network and a new design for its boutiques, including the REDValentino diffusion line. In October 2008, following the brief design tenure of Alessandra Facchinetti, Stefano Sassi trusted his instinct and promoted Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli, the in-house accessories designers, to Creative Directors. “I strongly suggested them to the board for different reasons, including their deep knowledge of the brand, their sensitivity, style vision and farsightedness in understanding the brand’s variables and potential,” said Stefano Sassi. Together they forged a coherent and successful design identity spanning ready-to-wear, accessories and fragrances that is applauded the world over. A global licensing agreement was signed with Puig for Valentino Parfums in 2010 and with Marchon for Valentino Eyewear in June 2011.
Stefano Sassi’s experience is multi-pronged and variegated as it covers fashion, textiles and finance. Between 1990 and 1996, he worked at Bain&Company, where he oversaw the strategic and industrial projects, both nationally and internationally, for a number of top level powerhouse companies such as FIAT, GFT and Ferrari.
He made his foray into the textile and fashion world in 1996 when he joined Cerruti 1881, serving as General Manager and board member until 2001, when he was appointed General Manager of the textile division of Marzotto S.p.A. and later became its CEO in 2006.
Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli’s stylistic approach is defined by their sense of contemporary nourished by contrasts and love for a mélange of visual, artistic and literary inputs synthesized in a vibrant and distinctive style. A fusion of styles and languages is the key to their method.
Maria Grazia and Pierpaolo both studied at the European Institute of Design in Rome and crossed paths in Fendi’s design studio. They immediately worked well together and their strong professional relationship has always been based on dialog, mutual admiration, and a focus on the present.
At Fendi their freedom and taste for experimentation in design led to the creation of memorable accessories.
Valentino Garavani himself saw their work and invited them to join him. In 1999 he gave them the task of creating an accessories line that interpreted the Couture spirit of the fashion house. The result was a collection with an unusual balance of tradition and innovation.
In September 2007, following Monsieur Valentino’s decision to retire, Maria Grazia and Pierpaolo were appointed Creative Directors of all the accessories lines of the fashion house.When that appointment was extended in the following year to include the men and women’s collections as well as the Haute Couture line, Maria Grazia and Pierpaolo became the Creative Directors of Valentino.
The fashion house took a new path. Backed by technical expertise jealously protected in the ateliers of Piazza Mignanelli, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli began writing a new page in the history of the company. The perspective changed and Valentino’s ideal woman evolved.
Condensed and simplified, the grace and precious delicacy that have always been a part of Valentino’s DNA are now contemporary and full of contrasts. The spirit of time has entered the atelier and changed the cards on the table.
Maria Grazia and Pierpaolo consider creative direction a total design project in which clothes, accessories, shoes and even store interiors – the last entrusted to David Chipperfield – create a system of signs. Everything, without distinction, expresses Valentino style. The message is timeless modernity. Heritage and style, tradition and innovation coexist in the concept of a new future.
THE NEW STORE CONCEPT
In February 2012, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli unveiled their first ever store concept in the Valentino boutique in Milan that was developed with renown British architect David Chipperfield over the course of three years.
The blueprint stems from a desire to preserve the grace and elegance that permeates the house while speaking to a modern public that lives and breathes the digital revolution. A fine balancing act where embellishments are transformed into subtle motifs by blending contrasts within a distinctive and timeless design, an airy lightness that evokes the past with a nod to the future where memories of yesterday are revisited for the generations of tomorrow.
The store is divided into rooms, each one characterized by an iconic element that speaks the Valentino language: a vertical mosaic of mirrors in the shoe area or the American walnut accessory shelving evocative of a gentleman library; the grey leather used in the dressing rooms – the most personal and coziest space; the white plaster walls; the timber parquet; the terrazzo marble on the floors and molding.
In contrast to the solidity of the architectural elements, the collection is displayed on slender polished carbon-fibre racks and shelving around the perimeter. These fixtures incorporate LED lighting, allowing each shelf or rack to be individually and almost invisibly illuminated. The overhead lighting strategy reflects the variety of finishes and spaces, combining concealed ambient lighting and clear white product lights around the periphery of the rooms with warm lighting or decorative chandeliers in the centre.
Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli were seeking a concept and vision that would become the leitmotif of the Valentino boutiques, expressed through visual and textural elements and a distinctive succession of areas.
“We immediately thought of David Chipperfield as the ideal person to interpret this concept due to his amazing ability to organize and design spaces, to create a mood with surfaces, and to cleverly alternate open and closed elements,” noted Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli.
“David Chipperfield has designed spaces that transmit complex ideas through an immediate sensorial experience that plays with volumes and materials. He possesses a rare gift of synthesis and has successfully translated Valentino’s iconography in a flowing and timeless manner, by playing with contrasts and using minimal Baroque embellishment. After all, we believe that having a heritage with a glorious past is the true luxury.”
Majestic yet sleek, the space exudes a solemn sense of calm and taps into the most striking element in Valentino’s DNA – the couture savoir faire – in this case expressed via the idea of a palazzo that mirrors Rome’s monumental scale, minimized to a precious yet subtle mood.
David Chipperfield’s interpretation of the space and its sequence of areas express a solemn, intimate mood that you rarely find in a traditional boutique. A sense of coziness and intimacy gradually increases as one steps away from the entrance to head towards the dressing rooms that, as the true heart of the home, are shielded from the outside world. Sharp corners and angles are replaced by soft curves to enhance the idea of grace and lightness.
The store concept by David Chipperfield has now been applied to all new openings and refurbishments. Among the most important boutiques – following Milan Montenapoleone – are Beverly Hills, Hong Kong Landmark, São Paolo, Paris Avenue Montaigne, Shanghai IAPM, San Francisco. New York and Rome flagships will be soon unveiled.
In January 2014, the new Men store concept has been inaugurated during the opening of the Parisian flagship in Rue St. Honoré.
Valentino Haute Couture offers a variety of collections that comprise of unique items exclusively handcrafted in the prestigious Roman atelier, where a team of about 40 seamstresses is entirely dedicated to handcrafting precious one-of-a-kind confections.
Valentino Prêt-à-Porter presents sophisticated and exclusive lines for men and women that target a chic young clientele that belongs to the new generation of international jet setters.
In January 2012, Chiuri and Piccioli unveiled their first men’s wear collection in Florence as Special Guests of Pitti Uomo. The designer tweaked the notion of Italian sartorial tradition and classic attitude with a collection that combined voluminous and fitted shapes enriched with playful details.
Valentino Garavani is dedicated to the accessories, a vast category that includes bags, shoes, small leather goods, belts and costume jewelry for women and men. Haute Couture details enrich every refined creation, the majority of which are handmade. Classic iconic Valentino motifs such as flowers, bows and lace are reinterpreted to adorn incredibly modern accessories strengthening a category that continues to thrive and evolve successfully.
REDValentino was launched in 2003 by Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli to round out the offering with a young, contemporary and romantic line-up that mirrors the house’s top codes.
A modern fairytale underscored by girly creations, playful combinations, impalpable fabrics and elegant finishes and details. Produced in-house, REDValentino is available in over 100 points of sales worldwide, including flagship shops in Tokyo, Moscow, São Paolo, Cannes, Rome and Milan.
The Valentino brand also offers a variety of furs, silks, eyewear and fragrances produced under licensing agreements.