BG Conversation: Screen Idolizers

The brilliant designer for Valentino, Pierpaolo Piccioli, and I have always been drawn to each other. We end up losing ourselves in conversations about films. Our recent rendezvous in Paris was no exception. – Linda Fargo

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LINDA FARGO: What a beautiful night on the Vendôme. The first thing it makes me think about is…would you consider yourself a romantic?

PIERPAOLO PICCIOLI: Definitely. I’m maybe the most romantic man I know.

LF: If you weren’t a fashion designer, what would you be?

PP: You know the answer—a movie director.

LF: Were you like the little boy in Cinema Paradiso? You probably related a lot to that.

PP: Sì. Of course. I remember when I was 12 or 13, I was living in this town by the seaside near Rome. I was so far from everything else, and I wondered about the world beyond what I saw.

LF: You and I talk about films a lot.

PP: It’s a shared passion. It links the two of us.

LF: I have a movie for you…have you ever seen Russian Ark? It’s a very long, romantic narrative.

PP: Yes—you gave me the DVD years ago. Beautiful.

LF: As a designer, do you feel that you need to convey a new message with every collection?

PP: Not really, because I don’t really change the messages and the values of the collection. For Pre-Fall, I was really thinking about the American dream. So, the collection is about that idea, but the values are the same. You deliver the values through different stories every season. I think good movie directors—[Michelangelo] Antonioni, [Bernardo] Bertolucci—they are always conveying the same messages, even with different stories. If you think of Stanley Kubrick, Barry Lyndon and A Clockwork Orange are so different, but you feel that they are by the same director. That’s very interesting to me, finding your own language that is recognizable.

LF: I do think, looking at your work, that it is cinematic. There’s something about the experience of seeing it that is like watching a beautiful film.

PP: Maybe it was the moment when I turned from cinema to fashion, when I understood that fashion could tell stories.

LF: I’m sure you do a lot of research as you’re building a collection. Mood boards and collecting pieces that inform where you’re going. I bet you have a pretty big library.

PP: Huge.

LF: You buy books a lot?

PP: A lot. Everywhere.

LF: What’s most precious to you?

PP: My family, my wife, my children. You know. What’s precious for me is people. I don’t care about things. I don’t collect anything, apart from books.

LF: Yes, you do. You collect sneakers.

PP: I buy lots of sneakers.

LF: You might actually get me in a sneaker for the first time. I never wear them unless I go to the gym. That’s it. But I really love the one you did with the wide band on it.

PP: I have ten of them. Not because I collect them, but because I like to own the things that I really like. But to use, not to own. Even books. I love books, but if I think you are interested in something, you can borrow my books.

LF: What do you do when you take a break and spend time with your family? Do you go to the beach? The mountains?

PP: No mountains. I don’t like mountains. All the white makes me…

LF: It’s a little blinding.

PP: Sì. I prefer to stay in my house by the seaside with friends and family.

LF: And do you cook?

PP: No, I just eat. My wife cooks. I just buy the wine, that’s it. And I eat.

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