MILAN — With a new financial backer to support its growth, Valentino is developing its men’s wear business with plans to open dedicated stores around the world.
This story first appeared in the January 15, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
After putting their design stamp on the brand’s women’s and couture divisions, creative designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli have been applying their touch to the men’s category in order to convey the same Valentino message. Accordingly, the designers have elected Paris as the location for their fall men’s show and will unveil it on Wednesday at the Hôtel Salomon de Rothschild, after two seasons in Florence at the men’s trade show Pitti Uomo.
“Florence was fantastic, but Valentino is connected to Paris historically, it’s always shown there and we want to offer a global vision of the brand,” said Chiuri in an interview here, where the company was holding an event to present its Camouflage capsule collection with artist Liu Bolin during Men’s Fashion Week.
Practicality is also an issue, as Valentino has a men’s showroom on an entire floor at the company’s offices in Place Vendôme. “Men’s can now be associated with Place Vendôme, our headquarters and the brand,” said Piccioli, underscoring “the same execution” for men and women. The two divisions, he said, “speak the same language. We didn’t overturn the men’s category, but changed it from within, with more interesting constructions and fabrics. Men’s aesthetics [are] so subtle.”
Chiuri noted that “the path is to combine the sartorial values of the brand, its essence of couture, with our idea of style, in men’s wear, too.”
Chief executive officer Stefano Sassi said parent company Mayhoola for Investments is offering “a great opportunity” to restart the men’s business, “approaching it in the best possible way” and investing in Valentino men’s stores. The priority is to open in Paris first, followed by London and Milan. Chiuri and Piccioli are developing a dedicated men’s store concept with architect David Chipperfield, who has also worked on the brand’s new women’s blueprint.
Mayhoola for Investments, an investment vehicle backed by a private investor group from Qatar, agreed to acquire Valentino Fashion Group SpA in July. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Milan-based sources pegged the price tag at about 700 million euros, or $907 million at current exchange.
Valentino’s men’s division accounts for between 7 and 8 percent of total sales, and Sassi said he was looking to expand the category so that it would account for 10 to 15 percent of sales in three to five years. “Through a very qualified distribution, we plan to retrieve a consistency and credibility that was lost,” said Sassi, revealing that there are plans to introduce a men’s fragrance soon.
As a preview of the collection to be shown in Paris, the designers said that, in addition to “some camouflage” pieces, the lineup includes pieces that have “a British, nonclassic influence” — think tartan fabrics — combined with “a Roman and Italian touch.” The Valentino man will be “elegant without effort,” mentioning Mick Jagger’s music.
Piccioli said developing “the men’s silhouette is the closest to the work we’ve done on accessories for Valentino.”
“We’ve always been serene about our work, and this focus on men’s wear reflects our confidence and a more mature vision,” said Chiuri.