Pierpaolo Piccioli outside the Valentino pop-up in Tokyo

SPORTING STYLE: Pierpaolo Piccioli and Stefano Sassi hosted local celebrities and fashion editors at two events in Tokyo Thursday evening, in celebration of the opening of Valentino’s 2018 resort collection pop-up shop. First came a cocktail party at the store, followed by an after party in a basement space in the nightlife neighborhood of Shibuya. The shop, located near the youth-centric area of Harajuku and the upscale Omotesando neighborhood, is one of three freestanding pop-ups that the brand is opening. The others are located in New York and Hong Kong.

The resort collection is heavy on athletic influences, which are apparent throughout the two-story shop as well. Exposed concrete walls, a punching bag, wire cages filled with basketballs and yoga mats, benches and tumbling mats give the space a gym-like feel. A small group of guys gathered around the front of the store shooting VLTN-branded black basketballs into a hoop attached to the building’s exterior wall. The whole vibe is much more street than Valentino’s usual fare.

Dressed in all black and standing outside the store smoking a cigarette, Piccioli explained why he chose Tokyo — as well as this particular neighborhood in the city — to launch the collection.

“I always had the feeling of Tokyo as a place where tradition is a good start for the future. I think that it’s a place where tradition is not some derivative of the past but it is a kind of awareness to see the future with more awareness of who you are. And so that’s why I like [Tokyo],” the designer said. “Because even for Valentino, now what I really want to do is to keep the tradition of the house and the sense of couture, the approach of the culture of couture, but mixing it with a contemporary sense of life. So Tokyo, yes, but even this area, because this area is not something that you kind of relate to Valentino. So I wanted to take away Valentino from beautiful institutional places and to get Valentino into the street with the vibe of the street. It’s where this collection was born, and where it has to be delivered.”

Sassi said the decision to sell the collection at pop-up shops was made at least in part to reach new customers, as well as to show Valentino to those customers in a different way.

“We are presenting the collection in a different way. Instead of presenting [the collection] through the stores, our designer wanted to do something more inclusive, more emotional, more oriented also to a kind of communication that is engaging the new customers. So that was our idea, and we’re doing this across the board, worldwide,” the executive said, adding that he believes the brand will continue to do similar projects in the future.

Piccioli said his inspiration for the collection first came from early hip-hop of New York in the late Seventies.

“Hip-hop I think is metaphorical because hip-hop used to mix pieces of music that you already knew, but mix it together with a different rhythm with the master of ceremonies rapping on top,” he explained. “And so at the end it was something that you already knew but with a new balance, with a different perspective. And it’s kind of metaphorical what I want to do with Valentino. I want to get something that you already know, but to mix it literally in a different way, rapping on top.”

While the designer said that the more street-inspired collection wasn’t a marketing decision to reach younger customers, he admitted that it was more about reaching a more diverse range of customers.

“I wanted to catch the spirit of time, and I wanted to get Valentino in a more imperfect world, let’s say. I think sometimes you need imperfection to describe beauty, and even for this, Japan is the perfect place because the Japanese idea of beauty is related to something ephemeral, of imperfection as beauty, and so I think that this is the right place to rethink and to re-see Valentino in a different way,” Piccioli said. “And of course I think that it is also a way to allow young people to know Valentino from a different perspective, because it’s something that you already know, like a t-shirt, a sweatshirt, even a tracksuit. The idea of sport to me is very universal. I didn’t want to think of sport as a specific sport, but I wanted to think of sport as a culture. And it’s not young, it’s not old. Sport is sport for everybody, but the idea of the universality of sport can allow people to express their individuality because the most universal pieces I think can become the most individual, because you try to interpret the pieces with your own personal style, which I think is important. That’s the message I want to deliver at the very end — of diversity, of personality, individuality, identity. That’s how the collection started, and that’s how I want the collection to deliver at the very end.”

To see the New York, Miami and Los Angeles pop-ups, click here.

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