Fashion designer Giambattista Valli on floral attraction, his love of lips and what makes the quintessential Valli Girl
Oh, to be a Valli Girl. Independent spirit, fearless leader, and, most importantly, muse of beloved fashion designer, Giambattista Valli. The inspired couturier, whose edgy elegance is whimsically modern and gloriously classic, brings his discerning eye to M•A•C via the chicest possible collection of lip hues. Here, Giambattista shares what he does in his spare time (between three lines of his own and Moncler, there’s not much of it), his love of nature, and how he translated his iconic aesthetic into just six lip products.
I was watching David Letterman’s show with Anna Wintour promoting the very first year of Fashion’s Night Out. Letterman asked, “How can you change the wardrobe of a woman with just $20?” Anna replied, “You go out and pick a brand new lipstick.” I thought that was so brilliant. So my idea was to put together the Valli colours — reds, pinks and fuchsia — hues that fit any kind of personality.
WHEN YOU WERE STYLING THE FLOWERS FOR THE CAMPAIGN VISUAL, YOU MENTIONED YOU WANT TO BE A FLORIST. IS THAT SOMETHING YOU'D LIKE TO DO?
I love the idea that you’re walking through a garden and these flowers get stuck on your dress. They’re not static flowers. Instead of putting a dress on her, it’s a way to dress her. It is more about the emotion than iconic beauty. It’s a gesture about sentiment, about feminine posture.
HAVE FLOWERS ALWAYS BEEN AN INSPIRATION FOR YOU?
Oh yes. Always. I cannot live without nature. It’s much more powerful than human beings. The colour of nature is the most inspiring.
YOU CALL YOUR WOMEN YOUR "VALLI" GIRLS"--
It was a joke! It started when I was in LA, when I had all my friends come in for the beginning of a very special show. I joked about the “Valli Girls” and the “Valley Girls.” We grew up together; Eugenie, Tatiana, Margherita, Bianca, Charlotte, and I…and now they are my Valli Girls.
WHAT DO YOU THINK MAKES THE QUINTESSENTIAL "VALLI GIRL?"
Someone who has an independent point of view. You cannot buy them. They have their own style, their own freedom, and they do their own thing. Their personality makes them a leader.
UNLIKE MANY OTHER DESIGNERS, YOU BEGAN WITH READY-TO-WEAR AND MOVED INTO COUTURE -- IT'S USUALLY THE OPPOSITE. WHAT MADE YOU TAKE THAT LEAP?
Having worked in ateliers for couture fashion houses, I have this knowledge and education about how to make couture clothing and fabrics. I wanted to get back to the cut, the patterns, the fabrics, the sound of the scissors. In my first collection I brought a taste of atelier haute couture to ready-to-wear, and it was very successful, so I said to myself, “Now I want to separate the two things.” My ready-to-wear is inspired by today, by the moment, by contemporaneity. My haute couture is something that floats on another dimension. I have a different problem from someone who has no ideas — I have too many ideas. So it’s good to have this different expression of my creativity.
ANOTHER THING THAT PROBABLY GIVES YOU A LOT OF IDEAS IS THAT YOU'RE ITALIAN, BUT YOU LIVE AND SHOW IN PARIS.
I can finally say I’m half and half, because I’ve lived in Paris for the last 18 years. I always see my fashion through a cinematic point of view. In the beginning it was very difficult to find that balance between the two things. I love this thing with the Italian women: They take a lot of care of their beauty, and the makeup, and their posture; and then there is the Rive Gauche, almost masculine aspect of the Parisian woman. It’s the story of my life, to have opposites working together.
SO WHAT DO YOU DO IN YOUR SPARE TIME, IF YOU HAVE ANY?
I do everything that can inspire me. I’m very curious. My muse is curiosity.
WHY DO YOU THINK YOU AND M•A•C ARE A GOOD FIT?
We both love beauty and colour. There’s a dynamic side of M•A•C and a romantic, luxurious side to me that makes us fit perfectly together. M•A•C is so brilliant and they’ve been in partnership with me from the very beginning. They’re a part of my story. Of all my stories.