PARIS — The house of Valentino needs design continuity, not necessarily a marquee name, once its founder decides to retire.
That’s how major American retailers reacted to Monday’s revelation that the Rome-based house, owned since 2002 by Marzotto SpA, has begun looking for a successor to Valentino Garavani.
“They have an incredibly successful formula right now,” said Robert Burke, vice president and senior fashion director at Bergdorf Goodman, echoing the opinion of most of his peers. “I don’t feel they need a big name to come in and revamp what’s successful.”
In a statement, Garavani’s business partner, Giancarlo Giammetti, gave no time frame for passing over the design reins, and added: “Until we find the right successor, Valentino and I will work as always.”
Giammetti declined further comment, and a Valentino spokesman described as speculation a report in the International Herald Tribune suggesting Garavani’s swan song would be his couture collection next January.
According to sources, the house has held exploratory talks over the past two years with many designers, including Tom Ford. And Matteo Marzotto, Valentino’s chief operating officer, was spotted taking in a number of Paris shows last week, including Balenciaga, Chloé and John Galliano.
Sources suggested Balenciaga’s Nicolas Ghesquière and Lanvin’s Alber Elbaz could be potential candidates for what would be one of the plum jobs in international fashion, given Valentino’s famed couture atelier. But Damiano Biella, who was named Valentino’s studio director in 2003, is also considered by some to be a formidable internal contender. Formerly creative director at Carolina Herrera, Biella is credited with bringing strong merchandising skills to the house.
To be sure, retailers are not seeking radical change in the design department.
“We would hope that whoever takes the job could really continue in the tradition of Valentino,” said Joseph Boitano, senior vice president and general merchandise manager at Saks Fifth Avenue. “It just needs to continue to grow and modernize as he’s done the last few years.
“I don’t think it’s essential to have a major name,” he continued. “It’s such a strong brand and has such a strong image and reputation.”Burke said Bergdorf’s Valentino business has been “extremely successful, especially in the last two years. We’ve seen a young, affluent customer gravitating to it.”
Barbara Atkin, fashion director at Toronto-based Holt Renfrew, said the brand owners might consider Alexander McQueen or the Dutch duo Viktor & Rolf to “speak to a new generation of women.”
Joan Kaner, senior vice president and fashion director of Neiman Marcus, applauded Valentino for planning succession well in advance, rather than a “helter-skelter” scramble at the last minute.
“I’m a retailer. We’re not looking for a change and a new story to write about. We’re looking for beautiful clothes for our customer,” she said. “[Valentino] needs someone who’s solid, who knows how to build a collection of beautiful items, with things that coordinate with it and, of course, lovely evening dresses.”
Pressed for a suggestion, Kaner said New York’s Derek Lam might be up for the challenge in a few years, as she considers a “feminine sensibility” a prerequisite for the job.
Michele Norsa, managing director and chief executive officer of Valentino SpA, could not be reached for comment.
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)
As one of the most recognizable models in the world, Christy Turlington Burns has an insider’s view of the fashion industry and the allegations of sexual harassment swirling around it. “I can say that harassment and mistreatment have always been widely known and tolerated in the industry. The industry is surrounded by predators who thrive on the constant rejection and loneliness so many of us have experiences at some point in our careers,” Turlington told WWD, along with her suggestions for how the modeling world should protect younger women and men. Read more on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: Tony Palmieri) #wwdnews
@asics America has tapped a new brand ambassador: famed DJ/record producer @steveaoki. This initiative is intended to set the tone for the new brand identity and philosophy and will include partnerships with influencers and in-store and off-line activations that will continue into next year. This is Asics’ most significant marketing effort in two decades, and is expected to attract younger consumers to the brand. #wwdfashion
24-year-old Jean Prounis is redefining the rules of jewelry. Formerly a studio assistant to Jemima Kirke and a design apprentice at Ghuran, she focuses on handcrafted subtleties and ancient goldsmithing techniques. “There was a really sterile feel in the environment and I wanted to have jewelry with character that shapes how you wear it everyday,” Prounis said. Each piece is hand made in New York, either by Prounis or three other jewelers in the district. #wwdfashion
“These collections continue to build on that vision, empowering differently abled adults to express themselves through fashion,” said @tommyhilfiger of his line of adaptive apparel, which launches today. The line consists of 37 men’s and 34 women’s styles based upon the pieces from the spring Tommy Hilfiger sportswear collection. #wwdnews