Working with people internationally can prove quite the challenge at the best of times, even when the odds are in your favour. So, what about when they're working against you? How do people work together, in harmony, when they're all tucked away in different pockets of the world? Working during a pandemic with people who are only a few miles away from you has been hard enough for most, so what about when you're working with people from around the world during a pandemic? That's a different task altogether. This hasn't stopped Valentino from working on their latest Valentino Collezione Milano campaign, though. Valentino's creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli has demonstrated his love for art in previous campaigns for the maison before, continuing to see art as a lens through which one can understand different worldly perspectives, while continuing their pledge to support the arts and arts education. Valentino has commissioned five painters worldwide to create one-of-a-kind artworks inspired by a Valentino Garavani accessory of their choice from their latest collection.
Artists involved in the campaign include Zhang Zihao from China, Alexis Ralaivao from France, Iori Nagashima from Japan, Nahum Kim from Korea and Louise Giovanelli from the U.K. The results are individual one-of-a-kind pieces in their own right that go from the hyper-realistic work of Louise Giovanelli, depicting the Valentino Garavani Roman Stud Top Handle, to Nahum Kim's illustrative and surreal style that portrays the same piece. Expressive and wildly emotive, some are life-like while others are completely abstract. In all, each work is a testament to the freedom, voice and creativity of the artist.
Alexis Ralaivao, who painted a cropped-in portrait of the Valentino Garavani Roman Stud Top Handle in a striking pink hue, said of the project, 'This project was a fantastic surprise. I always wanted to do this kind of project, and so doing it with one of the best Maison de Couture; I couldn't be happier.' Ralaivao admitted his admiration for painting clothes, exclaiming, 'I love painting clothes, especially moccasin shoes. I've been wanting to paint a bag for a long time and this was the perfect opportunity.' Adding to his explanation, Ralaivao also revealed how his vision came about, 'Right away I had an idea about how the painting should look like. I started by picturing it outside, in the deep countryside, with this woman reaching in her bag as she walks. I wanted the bag kind of stuck, pressed between her arms. I liked that this scenario I thought of created an element of mystery; where is she, what is she reaching in her bag for, where does that path go?'
Chinese painter Zhang Zihao decided not just to focus on his chosen accessory but also on the dramatic colours and backgrounds he painted. Zihao admitted in a statement as to why he chose to adopt block colour backgrounds in red and black for his piece: 'Speaking of Valentino, I think of the colour red, and I just think black is the perfect pairing for such an intense colour. The faces in my painting are people I've met before - I gave them each an outfit from my imagination that suits their temperament. Because the painting is very monochrome in style, there's an easy sense of tranquillity and vitality, which, in turn, brings out the texture of crochet sneakers, an accessory I feel reminds me of a sense of comfort.' Talking about the backstory to his painted protagonists, Zihao said, 'There's no storyline to my characters; the major part is open to interpretation. The paintings are both personal and public. Vitality is a flow, don't force it, and the rest will fall into place.'
Unafraid to re-write the Valentino house codes, the campaign further cements Piccioli's commitment to the humanist values of the artist, outlined in recent collections. With men's fashion week just around the corner, the Valentino audience will be eager to see what's next.