Pierpaolo Piccolo: Couture is part of our memory. It is part of our memory of being Italians because couture is linked to craftsmanship, to the execution, to the schools of art of the 15th century. It is a typical Italian tradition that we want to perpetuate and hand down, as we strongly believe that the memory of couture is the key to face the challenges of “Made in Italy’s” future.
Maria Grazia Chiuri: Very often in the past there was talk of Italian fashion in terms of prêt-à-porter more than couture. The first thing we did as creative directors was organise tours to let young people see our ateliers as we really think to that as a value to communicate, to show on the outside. For sure, in the past – but even today in some cases – Italian fashion was tied to a few strong stylistic personalities, and there was a lack of communication about this craftsmanship, this world of manufacturing.
Pierpaolo Piccolo: The sense of workshop, of atelier, of a place where you manually create something. Couture is indeed the territory of manual experimentation, of craftsmanship, of “great hands”.
Maria Grazia Chiuri: Absolutely. Having an atelier is surely a luxury as well as an opportunity for experimentation into high fashion. To us it is extremely important to make people understand how one of the fundamental values of Italian fashion is the indissoluble bond between the idea and its making and the quality of that making. For us the quality of manufacturing makes the idea itself stronger. This is, in our opinion, the great bond that made Italian fashion stronger in the world. It was not just a creative idea and a style, but also perfect execution. This is what made – and still makes – the difference.
Pierpaolo Piccolo: Ten young people recently joined our workshop.
Maria Grazia Chiuri: It is not unusual to find a tradition of manual ability within many Italian families. I think it is in our DNA. And this is linked to a strong passion. Passion is what really makes the difference.
Pierpaolo Piccolo: There is a sense of pride in being part of Valentino, in being Romans, in going to model in Paris, in making our products in Rome.
Maria Grazia Chiuri: Absolutely.
Pierpaolo Piccolo: We all want to tell this “journey” in the best possible way, and that is why these girls – they will be always “ragazze” [girls] for the rest of their life – put all this love in every stitch they sew. Also, the work is organised in a very hierarchical way, as couture still follow the rules of the old school of arts.
Maria Grazia Chiuri: Yes, there is a strong hierarchy.
Pierpaolo Piccolo: You can see the teacher, and all the other girls around. Only when we get to the catwalk in Paris [do] the dresses no longer belong to them; until the dresses are on the catwalk, worn by the models, they take meticulous care of them – until the very last moment. And it is very nice to see this sense of belonging, and how somehow they “let the dresses go” only when they are in Paris on the catwalk. You can really feel the love of these people for what they do.