MILAN — Giambattista Valli is landing here. The Italian designer will officially unveil his first store in his home country in February during Milan Fashion Week, preceded by a soft opening a month earlier.
This story first appeared in the December 9, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Nestled in the courtyard of a historic building on Milan’s tony Via Sant’Andrea, between Via Montenapoleone and Via Spiga, the 1,400-square-foot space will carry Valli’s ready-to-wear and accessories, including handbags, shoes, jewelry and furs.
“I had been looking for the right space for a long time,” said Valli, who enthused about the street and the positioning of the store. “It’s a privilege, it’s a more discreet, less institutional and less show-off location, and the fact that it’s in a courtyard also makes it very interesting.”
Valli was born and raised in Rome, studied at Central Saint Martins in London, and after stints at Roberto Capucci, Fendi and Krizia, moved to Paris in 1997 where he worked with Emanuel Ungaro. In 2005, he launched his namesake collection, which he shows in Paris. Valli opened his first store in Paris in December 2010, followed by an accessories boutique there last September. “I wanted to open a store in Italy, after my two boutiques in the country I work in. The Milan venue is another Valli house, conceived as an apartment,” said the designer, who worked on the project with Luigi Scialanga, the architect in charge of the blueprints of Valli’s two Parisian units. There, the spaces are embellished with Yves Saint Laurent drawings, Fornasetti mirrors and furniture designed by Valli.
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The Milan unit will also reflect Valli’s vision for the city. The designer said he did “not like a standardized” model for his stores. The Milan venue will echo Italy’s Fifties and Sixties, he said, adding that he has bought an “extraordinary” Italian table from the 18th century for the store, which he defined as “eclectic.”
The boutique will also offer a bespoke service for exotic leather skins, which will allow clients to place custom orders for the Valli bags and shoes. Books, magazines, and Cire Trudon candles dedicated to Positano will also be available.
“Opening a store is the best way to show one’s own universe, its philosophy and the lifestyle which comes with it,” said Valli, revealing he will open two more stores in three years, without elaborating on the location.
The company’s retail sales last year reached 60 million euros, or $76.8 million at average exchange, up 25 percent compared with the previous year.
There are 200 points of sale that carry the brand and Valli said his strongest markets are the U.S., Canada and Europe. He also noted the increasing performance of China, South Korea, Japan and Russia.
Valli’s is an independent company, and his rtw is produced by Mario Bandiera’s Bologna, Italy-based BVM SpA, parent of Les Copains. The designer values his freedom. “It’s especially important to start alone, to shape one’s DNA without constrictions, and be loyal to yourself,” he said, noting how he launched his couture line in 2011, when it was a bold move to do so. “But it’s been successful. You have to take risks at difficult times,” he said.
Valli said one can also remain independent with a partner. “It depends, look at [Moncler chairman and creative director] Remo Ruffini, he’s remained independent [working with funds as shareholders].” Valli has been designing Moncler Gamme Rouge for six years and was pleased with being part of the company’s history, in light of its pending public listing on the Italian Stock Exchange on Dec. 16.