Giambattista Valli

Giambattista Valli on His First Decade in Haute Couture, His Very Roman Upbringing, and His Next Steps in Paris

Giambattista Valli on His First Decade in Haute Couture, His Very Roman Upbringing, and His Next Steps in Paris

Photo: Edgar Berg. Vogue Arabia, October 2022
Clad in his signature strand of pearls over an easy sweater, Giambattista Valli is kicking back with a joyful expression following his Vogue Arabia photo shoot in his baroque-style showroom in Paris. Central to the shoot were his signature grand couture dresses, spotlight stealers like macarons on a plate. Voluminous proportions have been a part of Giambattista Valli’s creative vision since birth really. The 56-year-old describes his youth as one in which he felt like a character in a Fellini-esque setting. The center of Rome was and still is today, a place where all – aristocrats, waiters, gallerists, and the homeless – are characters in a colorful painting that never changes. “Everything is oversized in Rome. I am very used to that kind of disproportion and that’s why I play a lot with it within my collections,” he says, noting that Roberto Capucci (another Rome native), with whom he first worked, was a master at this. “It was alla mano and I love that about Rome,” he enthuses, noting that the expression means easygoing or down-to-earth.
Photo: Edgar Berg. Vogue Arabia, October 2022
It all began at the age of seven, when Valli’s parents took him to watch The Leopard by Luchino Visconti. Much to his chagrin, it was not a Disney movie as the name suggested, but instead a film that would forever serve as a definition of female beauty. Struck by the scene in which Claudia Cardinale’s character burst out laughing in a room of stiff aristocrats, like a “wave of freshness of sunlight coming through a dusty room,” he often reflects on this sort of “spontaneous beauty” during the creative process. Young Valli spent much time with his grandmother, particularly when she was being fitted at home for her dresses. There, Valli met his first “accomplice,” a seamstress named Caterina, a regular fixture in his family and the woman who sewed the eight-year-old’s first ensembles for Barbie. “There was no internet or TikTok or Instagram. Just me watching her stitching for hours. I was obsessed with seeing her and would ask her to make dresses and tell her exactly what I wanted. Caterina was my first première and Barbie was my first fitting model,” he adds, noting that the women in his family were not fashionistas but were strong, forward-thinking women who broke traditional molds. Among his aunts was one of Italy’s first attorneys and another, one of the nation’s first engineers.
Photo: Edgar Berg. Vogue Arabia, October 2022
Valli’s Roman roots and celebration of excess endures on the runway today in an ever more contemporary context. His landmark, 10-year anniversary July show unfurled in endless meters of tulle, silk faille, and duchesse ruffles. Romantically architected silhouettes were accented with delicate feathers and contrasted with bold ropes of crystal, chunky chandelier earrings, and exaggerated hair pieces fashioned into retro ribbons. It was a culmination of his life’s work, and a testament to his youthful vision. “When you go to school in the state of the Vatican, you see all this art around you and you grow up with a different approach to aesthetic,” he says, adding that he attended school steps away from the Vatican Museum, with great Roman creatives like filmmaker Emanuele Crialese who directed the French Italian film L’immensità.
In fact, when Valli comes to mind, one recalls his persistent vision, his knack for drapery and generous, showstopping amounts of silk and tulle, gathered sleeves, sculpted ruffles, and unexpected shoulders – styles that celebrate various female forms that have crystallized historic moments of every important red carpet event, from the Oscars to the Grammys to royal weddings. And a career path and résumé that includes Emanuel Ungaro and Italian houses like Roberto Capucci, Krizia, and Fendi where he met Karl Lagerfeld, who never thought couture would go out of style and was curious about everything. “For sure Capucci was the first love I will never forget. [His work was] drunk with colors and volumes… then I learned a lot from Fendi when Karl Lagerfeld arrived. While at Ungaro, there were still two employees who had worked with Cristóbal Balenciaga himself. Every experience was very precious.”
Photo: Edgar Berg. Vogue Arabia, October 2022
Valli moved to Paris in 1997 to start working with Ungaro, where he was made creative director and would go on to launch his namesake brand in 2005. Away from Rome’s chaotic splendor, it was in Paris where he learned what it was like to be alone, to build something from nothing. Valli says fashion journalist Suzy Menkes described him and his rise in Parisian circles best. “She once said I was like a guy on a fast-riding bicycle riding through a traffic jam of limousines,” he laughs, recalling his early days before his couture dreams came to fruition. “Yves Saint Laurent used to tell me, ‘Remember that the stars shine in the dark,’” he points out, and that was the mantra Valli lived by when he started his eponymous label, which he fought to get off the ground financially, working various jobs, and building a high-end, ready-to-wear brand. “You can’t imagine how many fashion jobs I did. A lot. Consulting, working 24 hours night and day. When you have a dream in your life, you do it with pleasure,” he shrugs.
Grounded in his charisma and fun-loving style, Valli’s brand quickly attracted the attention of influencers of the time, a sort of fashion set now referred to as the “Valli girls.” Diane Kruger, Bianca Brandolini, Charlotte Olympia Dellal, Eugenie Niarchos, Tatiana Santo Domingo, and grand dames like the late Lee Radziwill, to name a few. Fresh, yet retro, futuristic and dramatic, Valli continues to emerge as a global sensation. “Create your strategy like a strategist and execute it like a savage,” he responds when asked what advice he can pass on to novice designers of today.
Photo: Edgar Berg. Vogue Arabia, October 2022
Things shifted with a nudge from American Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, who encouraged him to take the plunge. And in July 2011, he was invited to the Fédération de la Haute Couture to show as a guest member, and was granted the official Haute Couture appellation by the end of the year. Charlotte Casiraghi wore a Giambattista Haute Couture gown to the wedding of Prince Albert II of Monaco, days before the first show that same year. Valli had already ventured into couture via weddings in 2005, with the nuptials of Maya Askari and Archduke Maximilian of Austria. Rania Al Abdullah, Queen of Jordan, and Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser were among his first loyal clients. Amal Clooney, who wore one of his creations for her wedding brunch in Venice, was drawn to Valli as a person, just as much as she was attracted to his designs. “He was immediately warm and charming and by the time I left his studio that day, we were friends. I joked that I would consider him my second husband and that is still what I call him,” she muses. The emboldened, sophisticated style of the Middle East and its fashion icons are a key driver for Valli’s projects and his future. “We speak the same kind of language. They are the leaders of femininity right now.”
Photo: Edgar Berg. Vogue Arabia, October 2022
When Valli contemplates the near future, he says his house is on the verge of expansion in terms of branding, image, and message. One day, Valli says he aspires to establish his label alongside historical international luxury fashion houses, to which he is often unfairly compared. After all, such maisons are over 70 years old and house generations of archives. The decision to grow is not necessarily for his own family, but for the sake of evolving and changing with the times. A notion that prompts him to recall a quote from the late French media baron Jean-Luc Lagardère: “The moment you stop taking risks, is the moment you are getting old.” Today, he finds solace in spending time with his family, his partner, and his nine-year-old son, who wants to be a soccer player. “I don’t want to give my son that entitlement and I want him to be anything he wants to be. I hope that he’s going to do everything in life he desires and if he decides to make the same number of sacrifices I made in mine, it will be for something that drives his soul and his dreams.”
Originally published in the October 2022 issue of Vogue Arabia
Hair: Annesofie BegtrupMakeup: Aurelia LiansbergModel: Amira Al Zuhair at Elite Paris
Read Next: Giambattista Valli on Bringing Couture to H&M

Jennifer Lopez Attended the Marry Me Screening With Ben Affleck in a Mini Wedding Dress

Jennifer Lopez Attended the Marry Me Screening With Ben Affleck in a Mini Wedding Dress

Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez at the ‘Marry Me’ LA screening. Photo: Getty
In her upcoming film, Marry Me, Jennifer Lopez wears a maximalist Zuhair Murad wedding gown, but for its screening, the star had something more low-key in mind. The actor walked the red carpet for the Los Angeles premiere of the film in a delicate dress that may not be in line with the glamorous looks usually expected from Lopez, but certainly kept with the film’s marital theme.
The dainty white number was aptly picked from Giambattista Valli‘s first-ever bridal collection named ‘Love’, which was unveiled in September 2021. One of the collection’s wedding gowns with a shorter silhouette, the mini dress was made entirely out of lace and featured a closed neckline, long sleeves, and a flared skirt.
Stylists Rob Zangardi and Mariel Haenn completed the star’s romantic ensemble with a pair of strappy Jimmy Choo Odette pumps with feather detailing, and a floral Dolce & Gabbana box clutch. The star’s beauty look was flawless enough to inspire that of a bride—Lopez had her hair down in loose waves, and makeup featuring a soft bronze glow and peachy nude lips.

In case you missed it, Jennifer Lopez did not attend the Marry Me screening by herself. The star was accompanied by partner Ben Affleck, with whom she recently revealed she feels “lucky, and happy, and proud” to be with. This is the second time the star has made a public appearance with Affleck dressed in a softer look. At the premiere of The Tender Bar, the singer also made headlines for wearing a waterfall-like blue couture piece by Lebanese designer Elie Saab.
Read Next: Jennifer Lopez Wore a Sparkling Elie Saab Couture Gown for the Marry Me Live Concert

34 Wedding Dress Ideas from the FW21 Couture Shows

34 Wedding Dress Ideas from the FW21 Couture Shows

Chanel FW21 couture. Photo: Go Runway
With real life shows (oh hi, FROW) and an abundance of romance on the runways, the FW21 couture season didn’t pull any punches when it came to show-stopping gowns or knife-sharp tailoring. Brides who have endured the anguish of serial postponements or stalled planning over the past 18 months can take comfort in the knowledge that the world’s greatest designers are championing a bold new era in matrimonial dress, destined to inspire an exultant return to IRL wedding celebrations.    
What to want now? Tough call. We’d place our bets on a worldwide sweep of ornately regal Bridgerton-esque dresses, were it not also for Balenciaga’s imposingly modernist tact (ideal for any bride wary of covert social media coverage) or the sheer drama of Schiaparelli’s deliciously voluminous proportions. Giambattista Valli, true to form, delivered blockbuster frou capable of charming those who always swear they’re minimalists at heart, while over at Fendi, Kim Jones crafted a line-up of modern classics –– think subtle asymmetry and sinuous cuts. Crucially, FW21 couture is also shaping up to be a vintage year for superlative tailored looks, with luxuriously trim suiting challenging the dominance of sweeping gowns.
From sumptuous adornment to abbreviated hemlines, this is your rundown of the best wedding looks to grace the FW21 couture runways.

Abbreviated Hemlines

Modern Classica

Regal Adornment


The new simplicity


Textures and trimmings


Read Next: The Best Modest Looks Seen at Couture Week Fall/Winter 21-22

5 Major Fashion Moments to Remember from the SS21 Couture Catwalk

5 Major Fashion Moments to Remember from the SS21 Couture Catwalk

Take Valentino’s glam-rock platform boots, add Fendi’s supermodel lineup and the return of one of fashion’s most-loved designers, Alber Elbaz — here’s how Couture Fashion Week SS21 came through with the haute energy we need for 2021.
Photo: Courtesy of Fendi

Drama, decadence and a whole load of attitude — Couture Fashion Week unleashes a welcome dose of escapism at the best of times, let alone in 2021. 
From Kim Jones’s romantic Fendi debut (simultaneously his first-ever womenswear show) to Chanel’s wedding-party-themed runway gathering (complete with a white horse to transport the bride) and the long-awaited return of former Lanvin creative director, Alber Elbaz — the SS21 couture runways delivered the kind of dreamlike glamour that we could all use right now.
These are the five need-to-know fashion trends from Couture Fashion Week SS21.
1. Haute reality
AZ Factory, Chanel, Schiaparelli

“I wanted to work on new technology to develop some smart fabrics with factories [to make] beautiful, purposeful, and solution-driven fashion,” Alber Elbaz told Vogue as he unveiled his new eponymous label, AZ Factory. The essence of his new design proposition? “[It] is for everyone.” The fuss-free, grounded spirit of the charismatic return to fashion was echoed elsewhere. At Chanel, Virginie Viard teamed a casual, untucked silk shirt (the sort you might be wearing with pilates pants as you read this) with a full ballerina skirt and morning-after-the-night-before sunglasses, while Schiaparelli’s Daniel Roseberry made the elasticated-waist pant the epitome of modern elegance. 
2. Electric prints 
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How does the world’s grandest fashion week strike a rebellious note? It ushers in the jeunesse energy of new talent. Enter recent fashion graduate Charles de Vilmorin, whose explosive hand-crafted designs pay homage to couture’s more outré ambitions. As Vogue Runway’s Nicole Phelps reports, De Vilmorin painstakingly painted his textiles by hand. His adage? “You don’t need a special occasion to wear something extra.” 
3. The big pink
Giambattista Valli, Armani Prive

Is it even Couture Fashion Week if there isn’t a multitude of gigantic blush gowns? We think not. The SS21 couture gospel according to Giambattista Valli? “Go big and stay home,” as he told Vogue via a video call. Valli’s plumptuous pink dresses alluded to the intoxicating effect of a bouquet of fresh peonies. Schiaparelli too fell for fuchsia, unveiling the outrageously surreal ‘earring gown’ (modelled with aplomb by Maggie Maurer), while Armani Privé made a persuasive case for matching your handbag to layers of confectionery tulle.
4. Burnished gold
Valentino, Fendi, Dior

Is our collective obsession with glowing skin crossing over into fashion? Yes — if the couture runways at Valentino, Fendi and Dior are anything to go by, a radiant wardrobe is set to be just as much a part of your beauty arsenal as a 10-step skincare regime. At Dior, Maria Grazia Chiuri enlisted director Matteo Garrone to once again capture the cinematic glow of her designs, which, this season, took inspiration from the mysticism and burnished feel of the historical Visconti-Sforza tarot cards. Over at Fendi, Kim Jones made the case for opulent ‘cheekbone highlighter’ hues that mirrored the all-natural luminosity of supermodel Christy Turlington, who made a surprise runway appearance as part of Jones’s friends-and-family show lineup, alongside Kate and Lila Grace Moss, Bella Hadid and Naomi Campbell.
5. 3D florals
Chanel, Giambattista Valli, Fendi

If sunny floral motifs were at one time the stuff of fashion cliche (“Florals? For spring? Groundbreaking”), the resurgence of characterful blooms made a welcome appearance in the SS21 couture collections at Chanel, Giambattista Valli and Fendi. It would be impossible to ignore the respite (and design inspiration) that nature has offered during the various lockdowns that have become an all too familiar part of daily life. As fashion shows temporarily take place virtually, or minus their usual rapturous audiences, some industry rituals have remained. Notably, the giving of enormous floral bouquets, which, through the wondrous 3D designs grown out of Paris’s hallowed ateliers, were symbolically gifted to viewers all around the world this season.
Read Next: The Best Bridal Looks from Paris’s Haute Couture Week SS21
Originally published on

The Best Bridal Looks from Paris’s Haute Couture Week SS21

The Best Bridal Looks from Paris’s Haute Couture Week SS21

Luxurious silk, frothy tulle, and delicate lacework — behold the best bridal dresses from this year’s couture catwalk.
Courtesy of Fendi

As fashion season kicked into high gear with Paris’s Haute Couture Week SS21, we were taken into high-glamour fairytales told through fashion films and digital shows, such as Dior‘s mesmerising exploration of self through tarot card characters and Valentino‘s mix of royalty and club-kid punk.
Throughout the week, we’ve witnessed couture’s exciting bridal transformations, including layers upon layers of tulle at Giambattista Valli and ruffle collars at Alexandre Vauthier. Meanwhile, the art of storytelling was transformed as shows fully immersed their virtual audience in beauty and elegance (think of Virginie Viard’s finale where the Chanel bride — wearing a silk-embellished, white-buttoned gown — rode in on a white horse). Aptly, this year’s offerings brought us creations that reinforce the purity of human connection and the emotion of being together — all of which we will hopefully be able to experience again, soon.
From Valentino to Fendi, these are the best bridal looks from Paris’s Haute Couture Week SS21.
1. Valentino
Courtesy of Valentino

2. Fendi
Courtesy of Fendi

3. Giambattista Valli
Courtesy of Giambattista Valli

4. Giambattista Valli
Courtesy of Giambattista Valli

5. Chanel
Courtesy of Chanel

6. Chanel
Courtesy of Chanel

8. Alexandre Vauthier
Courtesy of Alexandre Vauthier

9. Antonio Grimaldi 
Courtesy of Antonio Grimaldi

10. Antonio Grimaldi
Courtesy of Antonio Grimaldi

11. Dior
Photo: Elina Kechicheva. Courtesy of Dior

12. Dior
Photo: Elina Kechicheva. Courtesy of Dior

13. Armani Privé
Courtesy of Armani Privé

14. Viktor & Rolf
Courtesy of Viktor & Rolf

Read Next: All the Highlights from Day Three of Paris Haute Couture Week Spring/Summer 2021
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All the Highlights from Day One of Paris Haute Couture Week Spring/Summer 2021

All the Highlights from Day One of Paris Haute Couture Week Spring/Summer 2021

Read on for all the highlights and best looks from day one of Paris haute couture week spring/summer 2021.

Schiaparelli artistic director Daniel Roseberry is having fun – that’s obvious. His now signature surrealist jewels, grand draping and artistic ‘gilding’ was on full show once again for his latest spring 2021 couture offering: a 25-look collection of otherworldly pieces with an 80s underscore. If lockdown has left you a little soft around the edges, fear not – the designer’s fuchsia mini dresses and latex cocktail gowns carved out of muscular torsos are your fast-track to a burly body. It is, in fact, the body that seems to occupy Roseberry’s mind, whether his focus is on re-shaping something or artfully accentuating it with halo-like draping, spliced tailoring trimmed with ornate embellishment or trains of fabric hanging from arms, ears or the tails of a jacket. Wonderfully eccentric with an unnerving dystopian twist (Look 7 is straight out of Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange), the collection is a trip down Schiaparelli’s fantastical rabbit hole – giant padlock bags included.
Iris van Herpen

Entitled Roots of Rebirth, Iris Van Herpen’s latest collection explores the symbiosis of modern technology and artisanal craftsmanship. At once strikingly beautiful and heartbreakingly melancholic, the designer’s creations tap into the current zeitgeist and our desperately flawed relationship with the natural world. Picture an entangled empire of fungi, reimagined as rust-orange tendrils on a sweeping evening gown, or capillary-like embroidery coursing through the body of a dress, giving it life and exquisite shape. Fitting then, that this was also Iranian-born singer Sevdaliza’s runway debut – an artist celebrated for her rawly emotional and often melancholic songs. Her look, a blood red gown with aggressive, fan-like chiffon framing her neck and arms, serves as a reminder of Van Herpen’s obsession with innovative cutting techniques and her unwavering ability to embrace the darkness in all its disruptive glory.

Maria Grazia Chiuri once again enlisted the help of Italian filmmaker Matteo Garrone to help bring her designs to life via a fairytale-like short film titled Le Château du Tarot. Inspired by Christian Dior’s love for the divinatory arts, the collection evokes the characters seen on tarot cards — particularly, a 15th-century tarot deck created for the Duke of Milan — with dramatic embroidered capes, brocade robes, delicate sweeping dresses, as well as a translucent veil that sits on top of a sequined dress. The iconic Bar jacket also has its own presence, as it features revisited curves, in the form of a black velvet suit. The creative director’s work along with the film is nothing short of an invitation to a mystical world, speaking to the power of fashion in aiding escapism and fantasies, at a time when things are seemingly bleak.
Read Next: Kim Jones Will Present His First Fendi Couture Collection January 27

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