BOOSTING YOUTH: Valentino’s creative directors Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli have tapped a relatively unknown photographer for their spring ad campaign: Michal Pudelka of Slovakia. The campaign is his first major international project and, in an interview with WWD, the designers underscored the importance of supporting a younger generation, also seen through the imminent opening of a sartorial school and the entry of new artisans at Valentino’s atelier in Rome’s Palazzo Mignanelli.

“We are happy with the opportunity to work with this photographer, a person of great talent,” Chiuri said. “Talent must be supported. He is not well known, but we were impressed by his images; you can see strength and fragility at the same time. His aesthetic taste is poetic, and he has a cinematographic vision. He is not informed on fashion, he has more of an artistic path and it’s interesting to see how he works, with preparatory sketches, as he draws the sets for the photos.”

This story first appeared in the January 14, 2015 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

The campaign was shot in Tuscany on the beaches and in the woods of Punta Ala. Chiuri referred to the Grand Tour, the inspiration behind the collection. “We let him be free to express his creativity, and we liked his idea of an original, untainted view of beauty,” said Chiuri of Pudelka. Models in the ad included Maartje Verhoef, Grace Simmons, Hedvig Palm, Vanessa Moody and Clémentine Deraedt.

“There is poetry in his efforts to find the right location and light,” Piccioli said. “He’s used to industrial settings; we told him not to be influenced by a grand production, and we didn’t want him to change his point of view. We knew he had something to say and plenty of talent. To give an opportunity to true talent is part of our job.”

Piccioli said his and Chiuri’s efforts to create a master’s in tailoring are at an “advanced stage” as they fine-tune the number of students, methods, locations and structure. There are 70 people in the Valentino atelier, and this number is set to grow, according to the designers. “We have the older generation, aged between 50 and 60, and the younger ones, but we are missing the in-between generation, aged around 40. Now, young people are rediscovering artisanal craftsmanship and its dignity,” claimed Chiuri.

Asked to address rumors about a possible move to Gucci following Frida Giannini’s departure, the designers said they were “busy and working as usual” on Valentino, preparing the brand’s upcoming men’s, couture and women’s shows, as well as the fall couture show in July in Rome to celebrate the opening of the company’s new flagship in the city’s Piazza Mignanelli, near the label’s historic headquarters overlooking the Spanish Steps.

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