MILAN, Italy — The elusive Giambattista Valli is not easy to catch. He is too busy single-handedly running his independent maison, and coming up with a different collection every month of the year: two for couture, four for Giambattista Valli ready to wear, four for his year-old line Giamba and two for Moncler Gamme Rouge where he serves as creative director. Valli is an authentic, restless workaholic with the agenda of a designer who wants to stay at the top of the game while playing it to his own rules — i.e. financing his own work with other work, no investor needed. Valli makes every possible effort in order to be his own boss, “I could not do otherwise, at least for the moment,” he concedes.
Valli hails from Rome, the once glorious couture capital of Italy, which is currently witnessing a sort of renaissance. You can still tell, faintly, from his accent. Geography notwithstanding, Italy forged the designer’s aesthetic, though today he is an adoptive Parisian “I proudly claim my Italian, or even better Roman origins — he states — It is in Italy that I produce my collections, and it is in this beautiful country that I keep my roots. Professionally, however, I chose Paris: here fashion is supported by an authentic cultural system, and making clothes is considered as an art.”
“I attended grammar school but always had a passion for drawing. After graduation I enrolled at Rome’s Istituto Europeo di Design, while attending a fashion foundation course at London’s Central Saint Martins. Once I got my degree, in 1987, Roberto Capucci took me on as his assistant.”
Working at the side of such an undisputed, revered master like Capucci, more a sculptor working with fabric than a mere dressmaker, and a wonderfully painterly colorist to boot, left an indelible imprinting on Giambattista Valli, whose main interest lies in the unremitting perfection of the line — rather than in the distracting layering of decoration. It is an architectural trait he openly shares with his maestro.
“Pivotal experiences return and recur in your work. For me fashion is about a sign, a line, a texture, just like Roberto Capucci taught me. I believe in a certain creative strictness, and aim at creating a distinctive silhouette. Silhouettes, in fact, are memorably piercing. Decoration, instead, is just a souvenir that fades away quickly.” Alongside Capucci, Valli became a master of construction, learning first and foremost how to respect women without sacrificing invention. However, even at his most experimental, Valli keeps things wearable and relatively easy. “I design for a living body, not for a lifeless mannequin,” he explains.
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