LONDON — While U.S. First Lady Melania Trump enjoyed tea — and dinner — with the British royals, dressed in a dramatic lemon yellow-colored cape from Valentino, the brand’s creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli celebrated the launch of issue No.20 of A Magazine Curated By on Tuesday night.
Naomi Campbell, Kristen McMenamy, Alexa Chung, Kristin Scott Thomas, Erdem Moralioglu, Iris Law and Daisy Lowe were among the guests who attended the launch event and photo exhibition at Galerie Thaddeus Ropac on Dover Street.
Piccioli, the issue’s curator, said the edition was a “manifesto of my aesthetic, my values, my world. So I didn’t want to hire any fashion photographers, fashion journalists. I wanted it to be people I work with.”
Dan Thawley, editor-in-chief of A Magazine Curated By said the new issue is “very powerful, contemporary with a very respectful eye to classical Roman references. It is joyful and filled with different kinds of characters from all over the world, from stories from the past and the present, and hopefully, look at a very inclusive future.”
He took up the camera for the first time to take pictures of his friends and collaborators. Other shots, by Charles H. Traub, were taken in Rome – and Piccioli’s hometown of Nettuno, on the coast near Rome.
He took 44 portraits in Rome and Paris, featuring his family members, colleagues in the Valentino atelier and Campbell, Guido Palau, Pat McGrath, Adut Akech, Mariacarla Boscono, Laura Brown, Kaia Gerber, and Frances McDormand, who is also on the cover of the magazine.
McDormand wears a green sequin dress, and holds her name card with her mouth. Thawley called McDormand Piccioli’s “ultimate character in his realm of many many interesting characters.”
All of Piccioli’s subjects wore the pink ostrich feather hat designed by Philip Treacy for the Valentino Spring 2018 Haute Couture collection.
Piccioli said “the idea for the hat is to underline the messages of all the people that it’s not about the surface, but about the soul. The pink feather hat from my couture collection is a symbol of joy and lightness and also of couture.”
He said his pictures are a tribute to the late editor-in-chief of Vogue Italia, Franca Sozzani, and an homage to Steven Meisel’s Vogue Italia October 1992 photoshoot. Meisel captured a multitude of international personalities wearing his signature trapper hat and holding their handwritten name card.
“Franca Sozzani was talking about diversity. I feel like sometimes fashion has a very short memory, and I think she was the very first one to talk about diversity. When I saw that editorial, I changed my approach to fashion. I started thinking about fashion not as just clothes, but about messages. I think that you have to deliver an idea about beauty, but with the values too,” said Piccioli.
The cover is also embossed with a “P.P” stamp as a subtle nod to the Italian film director Pier Paolo Pasolini, who directed the period horror art film “Salò,” known in English as “120 Days of Sodom,” in 1975.
The magazine starts with still life images of Piccioli’s mood books shot by the American photographer Joel Meyerowitz. The photos document his illustrations, inspirations, polaroids and pictures from fittings.
Following those images are documentary-style editorials by Traub, “one of the original street photographers of American culture since the Sixties,” according to Thawley.
Traub shot fashion for the very first time for the issue. The series features a host of characters, including Pierpaolo’s wife Simona and daughter Benedetta, and models Leslye Houenou, Hannelore Knuts, and Aurora Talarico.
Blake Abbie, editor-at-large of the magazine, said the images shot by Traub in Rome “painted an incredible picture of the city, from Pierpaolo’s hometown to the places he frequently visited as a child, to the beach where he takes his kids to. It’s offered something very personal for the readers.”
Art plays a big role in this issue as well. Paintings from Hieronymus Bosch are scattered throughout the magazine’s pages, countering Pierpaolo’s contemporary vision with his classical inspirations, including a rarely-seen Caravaggio painting at the Palazzo Odescalchi in Rome.
The issue also documented Piccioli’s DIY project, involving Craig Green, Marc Jacobs, Jun Takahashi of Undercover, and Givenchy creative director Clare Waight Keller.
Each designer was sent a roll of Valentino red silk and a packet of Valentino studs, to interpret the Valentino house codes in their own way. The result was a dynamic collection of objects, including a teddy bear, a corsage bow, a bustier dress and a set of stuffed sculptures.