When Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli took over design at Valentino not long after Valentino Garavani retired in 2008, they tried to make the clothes a bit less stuffy. Rich women always went to Valentino for eveningwear — the fanciest of the fancy — but Chiuri and Piccioli understood that women also wear clothes during the day. Valentino CEO Stefano Sassi calls this a "reinterpretation of the brand" now that the "untouchable" Vava is gone. So they are making T-shirts — the ultimate in casual — even though Valentino himself hates it (not that he's liked much of anything the new designers have done).
"This is anathema to Valentino," said Mr. Sassi of the designer, who retired in 2008 with a whoopla party in Rome. He said he hasn't actually asked the opinion of Mr. Garavani, who skipped the brand's Paris runway show in March, but he noted with a shrug, "We know this through people."
Anyone who's seen Valentino: The Last Emperor knows Vava, who doesn't seem to eat unless his food is delivered by waiters wearing white gloves, doesn't do T-shirts, even the new ones bearing his name that can cost as much as $3,000 for the silk variety. Valentino stores carry ten styles of tee, most ranging from $395 to $800, with embellishments made from scraps leftover from other garments. But that's still less than half the price of this plain army-green Balmain tee with holes all over it that costs $1,625. T-shirts, friends. T-shirts.
Update: The original Journal article misstated the price of the tee-shirts. A rep for Valentino informs us they actually cost "$590 to $1,980, depending on the style."
Reinterpreting Valentino [WSJ]