MILAN — It’s official. Maria Grazia Chiuri is leaving Valentino.
Confirming a WWD report, the Rome-based group said the designer is “to pursue a new professional experience,” which sources say is to join Dior as its seventh couturier. Pierpaolo Piccioli will become sole creative director of Valentino. Together, the designers presented their swan song Valentino couture show in Paris on Wednesday evening.
“Valentino and the people with whom I work with are a great part of my life. My decision of bringing forward the creative guide of this maison is driven by the strong passion that triggers my work and by the desire of continuing to express here my stylistic vision,” said Piccioli.
Chiuri is leaving after 17 years with the brand and eight in her role as co-creative director, thanking founder Valentino Garavani and his business partner Giancarlo Giammetti, chief executive officer Stefano Sassi and the team at the house for their support. Chiuri said she had “shared with Pierpaolo a great part of [her] professional life and it has been an experience made of many successful creative achievements together.” She added she was “ready to embark on a new professional challenge.”
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Chiuri and Piccioli first worked together at Fendi for 10 years. Garavani selected the designers to boost his brand’s accessories category, which they did, rejuvenating that division. They were promoted to creative directors of accessories at Valentino when Alessandra Facchinetti was assigned the same title for ready-to-wear after Garavani retired in 2007. In 2008, they succeeded Facchinetti as creative directors of the brand.
In a joint statement on Thursday, they underscored that after 25 years “of creative partnership and of professional satisfactions” they are taking the opportunity to continue their “artistic path in an individual way.”
Their fruitful collaboration and the management expertise of Sassi have propelled Valentino into one of the hottest and fastest- growing designer brands. Last year, the firm surpassed the $1 billion revenue threshold, posting a 48 percent jump in sales.
“Everything achieved in these years would have been impossible without Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli’s talent, determination and vision that together have contributed into making Valentino one of the most successful fashion companies,” said Sassi. “A new and exciting phase for the brand begins under the creative leadership of Pierpaolo Piccioli. The brand is strongly determined to continue its affirmation and development process accomplished in the past years.”
Chiuri’s exit comes ahead of Valentino SpA’s possible initial public offering, expected to take place not before 2017.
Valentino is owned by Qatar’s Mayhoola for Investments, which just bought Balmainand also controls Pal Zileri and has a stake in Anya Hindmarch.