Accessories Duo Tapped to Take Valentino Reins

MILAN — Accessories designers are increasingly capturing the spotlight at big Italian labels.

In a surprise move earlier this month, Valentino gave accessories designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli sole creative control of the iconic Italian fashion brand. The duo replaced Alessandra Facchinetti, who was abruptly dismissed as creative director after a week of feverish speculation surrounding the company during the Paris shows.

Chiuri and Piccioli are the second accessories designers in recent years to assume total responsibility for a major Italian brand. Their course mirrors that of Frida Giannini, who went from accessories director to creative director for all Gucci categories in March 2005. That followed Facchinetti’s resignation as Gucci’s women’s wear designer.

Facchinetti clearly was caught off guard by her dismissal, despite the rumors. She said she learned with “deep regret from the press” that she would no longer be working for Valentino.

“This news came as a great surprise since the company’s top management has not yet seen fit to inform me of the above,” she said in a statement dripping with sarcasm. She also criticized the fact that a brand “the calibre of Valentino, which has made history in the world of fashion, has been the subject of rumors for the past two weeks.”

Now it’s up to Chiuri and Piccioli, who told Footwear News in an exclusive interview they plan to capitalize on their decade spent working alongside Valentino himself to ferry the house into the future while remaining anchored to its history and DNA. “We were hoping for it, and I think it was a way for Stefano Sassi [Valentino’s chairman and chief executive] to express his appreciation of our work,” said Piccioli.

Seemingly undaunted by the fact that they are not clothing designers, Piccioli and Chiuri said they believe in establishing a strong company vision and utilizing the label’s existing talent.

“We believe in teamwork and we think there’s a great and efficient company supporting us that needs leadership,” said Piccioli.

“We want everyone to work well and happily because ultimately this reflects on the product,” added Chiuri.

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