As announced in the latest issue of Observer Fashion by Tank, Valentino has replaced all of its existing fragrances with a single signature scent: Valentina. I went out to Rome for the launch, to meet the designers (Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli), the noses (Alberto Morillas and Olivier Cresp) and the divine Freja...
Having watched Johan Renck's TV ad - following Freja from the confines of her aristocratic family to the cool back streets of Roma - I first met with Alberto and Olivier to discuss the blend itself, created over a two-year period since the new design team took the helm.
Is there anything of Mr Valentino's style reflected by the scent?
OC: "We kept Valentino's spirit with the red colour of strawberries, but otherwise it's a new style for a new woman. And this is now the sole signature scent - ther pillar around which everything else will build. So we knew we had to create a classic."
AM: "With the collections Maria and Pier are creating the next 6 months of wear. But with a fragrance like this, a signature perfume, we had to think of the next 10 to 15 years. It has to have staying power. So it has to address who the new Valentino woman is, reflect the new house style and yet look ahead to how it will evolve in time."
How did you translate the new house spirit into an olfactory symbol?
OC: "We took the codes of the house - the flowers, Roma, romanticism..."
AM: "Yes, we wanted Italian ingredients to capture the spirit of Rome. Now 80% of them are Italian ingredients - even the Bergamot is from Calabria."
What other ingredients did you incorporate?
AM: "It's got the fizzy sparkle of white truffle and bergamot with feminine, light notes of jasmine and orange blossom, but has a really seductive edge with the warmth of amber.
I later met with Maria and Pier to discuss their take on the beauty side of their new business.
How did you break with the former house of Valentino to usher in your own identity?
MGM: "That first collection was based on Valentino's ideas. But then we needed to make a point of starting again. We had to achieve the balance between our vision for the house and Valentino's heritage. So we go step by step towards our own vision with an awareness and link to the past, entering our own world and delivering the best collections we can. We aim for a consistency of message from collection to collection, but also to evolve the house style and language we use."
PP: "It's a new era for Valentino. We sought a new grace in our Valentino collection, a new delicacy that is fresh. We didn't want to show off the flesh of a woman, but seduce with femininity, showing a fragile spirit. This comes out of our respect for women."
Is hair and makeup a key part of your pre-show creative process?
MGM: "Always. We start from a vision of a woman that will explain our collection idea - and sometimes the balance is in the hair and makeup. It's a key part of the meaning of the collection, the story."
PP: "Our job is to celebrate beauty. We think of the woman as a painting, personal and individual."
MGM: "For the Valentina print campaign, for example, Lucia Pieroni did the make-up and Guido Palau styled Freja's hair."
How did you choose Freja as the face of Valentina?
MGM: "Freja is such a key face to us - she has featured in our campaign imagery already. So elegant and yet so contemporary. She represents the various aspects of the new Valentino woman: romantic yet edgy; effortless yet flawless; beautiful yet androgynous. These aspects are in every woman."
We later dined at the Villa di Medici beneath the stars. Freja confided that she'd love to take more beauty risks herself, but knew her agents would kill her. "If I could try anything, I would go platinum blonde," she explained. "It would be completely different - I've never done it before and it'd be good to see what I look like for a while. Not while I'm working of course, but maybe one day. I love Abbey Lee's shade - really crisp, bright blonde."
Text: Grace Timothy
Images: David Sims