Welcome to Now You Know, Eric Wilson’s column that will help you become a fashion know-it-all in one easy read. Each week, he’ll take a look at an endearing fashion influence and why it’s relevant right now. Enjoy!
Let’s forget about those famous tourists, Prince William and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, for a moment. New York City has some other famous guests visiting this week, and they’ve brought presents. Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli, the Valentino designers, are celebrating their recently opened flagship at 693 Fifth Avenue with a special couture show tonight, the kind of spectacle that is rarely seen outside of Paris.
For the VIP event, Chiuri and Piccioli are taking over the former site of the Whitney Museum of American Art to present their runway collection, as well as a special installation dedicated to the decorative arts firm Fornasetti. The Valentino designers are fond of celebrating the Italian arts in their collections, and so it is fitting they would help shine a spotlight on the Fornasetti name, which was hugely popular in the 1960s for graphic black and white designs on plates and ceramics, often featuring women’s faces and features rendered in stippling dot technique. Following the death of founder Piero Fornasetti in 1988, his son Barnaba Fornasetti took over the house.
While the Whitney event will feature an installation of Fornasetti designs, the Valentino store on Fifth Avenue will offer a limited edition collaboration of home designs (pictured, above), like a plate, a stool, and an eyeglass case, that combine Fornasetti’s graphic drawings with Valentino’s popular camouflage prints. Plus, as a tribute to New York, Chiuri and Piccioli also designed a large array of their own accessories, including totes and shoes, that are featured at the entrance of the David-Chipperfield store. Those designs are all in white, with a single red heart motif inspired to show their love of the city.
“We want to show our craftsmanship to New York, and Fornasetti speaks of Italian craftsmanship,” Chiuri said at a preview party on Tuesday night, where the dashing duo were surrounded by admirers. “And New York, for us, is a place to dream. We love New York.”
“The energy is completely different,” Piccioli added.
“I’m obsessed with the museums,” said Chiuri.
“And even walking in New York is inspiring,” said Piccioli. “We see New York with different eyes, because we are Italian.”
“Everything is fast,” said Chiuri.
“But you really catch the moment.” said Piccioli.
Their itinerary, in fact, was possibly more jam-packed than that of the British royals. Beyond the show and store events, there was dinner at Red Rooster, a stop by the Neue Galerie, and, just the night before, drinks at the Carlyle Hotel to see Woody Allen’s weekly jazz performance. And wouldn’t you know it, whom did they see?
Wills and Kate.