In today’s garments, there has to be the spirit of the atelier. So says Giambattista Valli
His masters are called Roberto Capucci and Emanuel Ungaro: an special interview with Valli
He receives you in a white overall, the one that has always been worn by the great couturier. He has learned his lesson very well and can therefore get away with it because his masters are called Roberto Capucci and Emanuel Ungaro. At the neck, a thread of white pearls, beautiful, that has become his good luck charm and a habit that makes the international press go mad with curiosity. Him, Giambattista Valli, at the moment, probably the most sought after and acclaimed stylist for his idea of prêt-à-couture, he has always been the same person, even though his fashion is now sold in over 220 of the most important boutiques of the world. I have worked hard, very hard, in these last few years, from when, in 2004, I decided to launch the label with my own name and to show it at the Paris fashion shows>, Giamba says smiling, as all his true friends call him; a thin 42 year old, with very dark hair, penetrating eyes and a natural charm, arrived on the shores of the Seine in 1997, in the atelier of Ungaro in Avenue Montaigne.
“But before, after my art studies, I trained with Capucci, Fendissime and Krizia: with Mariuccia I learned a lot even though I left and then asked to be taken on again three times!” he says jokingly. He likes to go back to his first meeting with the great Capucci. “I was doing a work experience in the press office, I was chosen because I spoke English. One day I was in the corridor of the Atelier in via Gregoriana and was on one side as the Master was working. He looked at me and I immediately gave him my opinion of the garment. There and then I thought I probably shouldn’t have spoken without being asked. Instead, he appreciated my courage and decided to take me on in the Style office”. This is how, by chance, Valli’s career in fashion started, a career that today dresses the stars of Hollywood and is in the hearts of some young socialities like Bianca Brandolini, Ginevra Elkann and Margherita Missoni. “These young women are the best interpreters of my style>, he explains. Then the arrival at Fendissime and the great opportunity to follow the work of another exceptional couturier such as Karl Lagerfeld and breathing the eclecticism of Paris and the Chanellian atmosphere. Three seasons at Krizia, and at the age of 29 the turning point, having met Emanuel Ungaro. “At the time the Italians where not respected like today, here in Paris there was a certain hostility. Now with me, Stefano Pilati at Yves Saint Laurent, Antonio Marras at Kenzo and Riccardo Tisci at Givenchy, everything has changed and we are the leaders of the Parisien scene”. Praised to the skies and envied, as recently happened at the womens’ spring-summer 2009 prêt-à-porter show with Giambattista Valli, who was acclaimed with a very long and determined applause; moreover, on the altars of style, with the collection Gamme Rouge for Moncler who has signed the collection for the last two Seasons and who has already transformed the collection with the sharp needle of refinement. But it is his brand that the buyers greatly approve of, his garments are so modern but at the same time glancing nostalgically at the golden age of the Fifties – Sixties. The controlled and careful production of the Gruppo Gilmar, of the Gerani family has given them a big push. The Gerani family has been the first to bet on the pure talent of Valli among all the industrialists. “I am one of the few couturiers who has his own self-managed and self-financed label”, he adds, full of pride and it can’t have been easy to maintain such an independence. A great learning experience with Ungaro, with a lot of hard work in the atelier. First in the shade and then in the public eye, like the dauphin of Emanuel and after, responsible for the prêt- à- porter followed by haute couture, taking over from the great master when he retired from the catwalk.
“Here in Paris, I have today the satisfaction of receiving encouragement from John Galliano and Alber Elbaz, not like in Milan where fashion is still divided between Guelphs and Ghibellines, between feuds and vendettas. We esteem each other and we sustain each other in projects of great quality”. Don’t want to be argumentative, only disillusioned consideration of the character of the new couture school that, on the Seine, is laying the foundations of a New Look. Valli does it with the shapes of his garments, nebulous and exaggerated, lively and imposing. In the choice of a neutral colour difficult like the neutrality of the clothes patterns. In the exaltation of a strong and declared femininity which wants to re-launch suits as the King element of womens’ wardrobes, also with crinolines that, as the occasion warrants, can be removed in order to be ready for the office. “In today’s garments, there has to be the spirit of the atelier. Without the history of fashion, you can’t go anywhere, nobody has to invent anything any more, but it is necessary to re-interpret beauty in a contemporary way”. And this prêt-à-couture will be the only vaccine against the crisis and competition.