The Role of the Designer

Examining the Changing Face of Fashion

Understanding the evolving dynamics of the role of the designer is crucial for navigating industry shifts. Often, we’ve been pondering a recurring question: Does it still make sense to keep an eye on luxury brands?

The so-called but no-more-so luxury brands. Or the once esteemed but now seemingly entangled in the pursuit of profit. Therefore, they change designers for short-term profit, to the point of sacrificing their legacy. It’s a reflection that delves into the core values of an industry now seemingly driven by financial gains rather than its intrinsic essence.

In one of our most recent posts, we wrote a thought we want to repurpose here. Indeed, a significant issue that requires additional investigation. In the ever-evolving landscape of fashion, where trends shift like sand dunes in the wind, algorithms emerge as a formidable force, reshaping the industry in unprecedented ways.

Fashion designer: from skills to loudness

But what are the consequences of algorithms?
One of the consequences of this transformation is the shifting role of the brand’s central figure: the designer. Alber Elbaz’s poignant observation sheds light on this evolution:

“We designers, we started as couturiers, with dreams, with intuition. Then we became ‘creative directors’, so have to create but mostly direct. And now we have to become image-makers… Loudness is the new cool, and not only in fashion, you know. I prefer whispering.”

Alber Elbaz

Indeed, in today’s digital age, the clamour for attention on social media platforms necessitates a cacophony of noise from brands. Loudness has become the modus operandi to cut through the clutter of images inundating our feeds. In other words, social media has corrupted fashion.

Of course, recent developments follow this logic. Specifically, Maison Valentino appointed Alessandro Michele as the new creative director. That underscores the industry’s relentless pursuit of attracting young, social media-savvy audiences. And to the expenses of decades of legacy, consistency and beauty. While these individuals may possess an innate understanding of visuals, the question arises: Can they perceive the depth of quality, skills, and ability essential for authentic creative direction beyond surface aesthetics?

As we move forward in the fashion industry, it is crucial to reflect on the shift in the role of the designer. And question whether profit has eclipsed the industry’s once-revered artistic and creative integrity.

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Pierpaolo Piccioli announced departure from Valentino

Fashion Industry: Financial Gain at the Expense of Creative Vision

Seismic news rocked the fashion industry: Pierpaolo Piccioli, the creative force behind Valentino, has announced his departure. This startling development prompts us to question, even further, the essence of fashion itself.

Piccioli’s sole leadership modernised Valentino with unparalleled and undeniable beauty. His visionary approach to fashion exuded poetic elegance, expressed through magnificent couture pieces. Also, he championed inclusivity and diversity, embodying a powerful political stance

PP Piccioli: an exception in the fashion industry

However, Piccioli has been an exception in fashion: he’s been the only designer who has fully respected the Maison’s DNA he designed for. (We wrote about it here). Very few others have shown such humble respect for the founder. In fact, Mr Valentino’s own words after the announcement sum it up perfectly: 

“Thank you, @pppiccioli, first and foremost, for your friendship, respect, and support.
You’re the only designer I know who hasn’t tried to distort the codes of a major brand by imposing new ones and the megalomania of a ridiculous ego. “

Mr Valentino via Instagram

Mr. Valentino’s insights shed light on the contemporary approach of creative directors in their roles. The presumed objective is to revitalise the brand’s image, infusing it with modernity. However, lacking humility or reverence, many creative directors recklessly discard past achievements. More often than not, this results in designs devoid of beauty or purpose, merely serving marketing interests. In other words, the fashion industry is all about financial gain at the expense of creativity and consistency.

It’s undeniable that the luxury sector is experiencing a slowdown. But it’s crucial to recognize that creative designers don’t have a magic wand. Moreover, no other designer can uphold Valentino’s legacy to the extent that Piccioli has thus far.

Financial gain vs creativity and consistency

Indeed, it’s disconcerting how the fashion industry incessantly targets younger generations. The reality is, most young people cannot afford a 2,200 euro mini dress! So, this prompts reflection on whether the true essence of design has shifted towards more accessible items. Should we expect fashion Maisons to sell logoed baseball caps?

Should we anticipate another ‘Balenciagan’ spectacle? Or a new lace & blossom Alessandro Michele’s Gucci style? These are just a couple of examples of larger-than-life egos in the industry. Alessandro Michele’s radical transformation of Gucci begs some questions. After he killed Gucci’s heritage, will the Maison ever regain its credibility? And does it make any sense to risk a similar fate for Valentino?


In conclusion, Pierpaolo Piccioli announced his departure from Valentino, leaving many perplexed. Beyond expressing admiration for the immense beauty that he has brought to the forefront over the years, we struggle to grasp the underlying rationale. Or, perhaps, we understand it all too well. But we are fed up with that game.

We invite you to share your thoughts in the comments below!

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The exception to the rule

They say every rule has its exception. And, of course, we couldn’t escape. A few days ago, we wrote that fashion Maisons whose original designer has left, lose their meaning.

Indeed, this is not the case with Valentino, the exception to the rule.
Since the duo Piccioli – Chiuri has split from co-designing the brand, Mr Pierpaolo Piccioli didn’t miss a single beat. Though, we cannot say the same about Chiuri’s work.

From the moment he went solo, Piccioli’s design has been a celebration of the Valentino codes. He carefully paid respect to the founder’s work, elaborating the brand DNA while adding a touch of modernity. Elegance has certainly not been lost.

On July 15, we saw the Fall/Winter 21-22 Valentino couture show, streamlined from Venice’s Gaggiandre, Arsenale. What better occasion to find a valid exception to the above rule. The show was a dialogue between fashion and art, presented from a magnificent set-up.

If fashion is not art, it is true that both forms of expression have many aspects in common: creativity, the vital and founding element that determines the whole process. But also time, experimentation, and skilled hands. All these are crucial elements needed to reach a perfect realization.

For the show, Pierpaolo Piccioli collaborated with 17 painters, and the final result was sublime. The overlapping of bold colours was a joy for the eye, a breath of fresh air. The fluid silhouettes and clean-cut lines, the game of form and colours, showed a modern way to make couture.

Impeccable tailoring and know-how. Effortless beauty and elegance.
An expression of art. And a real celebration of couture.

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The state of fashion & the couture revamp

Top brands are rediscovering and relaunching their couture collections. And eliminating the diffusion lines, as Valentino did with Red Valentino, for instance.

The couture orientation could be a re-emerged desire for well-done items among tons of junk clothing. A strategy to clean up a collapsed market, focusing on their original identities. Or the research for a more sustainable model. Both possibilities are worthy.

In fashion, we should do like the music bands: can we imagine Queen without Freddy Mercury? or Nirvana without Kurt Cobain?
For instance, why should Margiela make sense designed by someone who has his opposite vision? Although John Galliano is one of the greatest couturiers, Margiela is not Margiela anymore.
What about Balenciaga? or Gucci? Brands lost their identity, and now it’s game over.

Couture and heritage

In todays’ panorama, we believe historical Maisons should repurpose archival pieces in a modern version to keep alive the designer’s heritage. And no, we are not referring to the so-called “modernity” of the recently relaunched Balenciaga couture line. Was the pigeon toe an example of modernity? We don’t think so.

As conceived nowadays, couture and brands in general, when the designer of the Maison is dead or has left, lose their meaning.
Although there is a vague inspiration coming from the archives, we see very little respect for the creativity and work of the original designer. Instead, a certain arrogance of the newcomers prevails, aiming to show their own vision while disfiguring the original. There are very few exceptions.
So conceived, fashion is simply a way to make money out of the brand name legacy, in addition to an ego game. All the magic is gone.

Since overproduction is killing our planet, couture and demi-couture collections offer a more controlled and limited production model. The higher quality wouldn’t hurt either.

The return of the “atelier” with a unique selection of worthy pieces and custom-made items is the opposite of the mass distribution model we saw flourishing till now. They would offer value and sustainability.

And maybe we’d see the rebirth of fashion.

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