Valentino Pre-Fall 2022 Promenade Campaign is a ‘Portrait of a Generation’
All images, ©VALENTINO, Photography by Michael Bailey Gates
Since 2008, when he and Maria Grazia Chiuri were installed as co-Creative Directors (the latter departed for Dior in 2016), Pierpaolo Piccioli has been transforming the storied house of Valentino in constantly surprising ways. And probably nothing sums up just how surprising as the contrast between the rarefied, stunningly realized Des Ateliers Haute Couture presentation in Venice last July, and the cool, whimsical insouciance of the recent Rendez-vous campaign, featuring Euphoria star and zeitgeist-unto-herself Zendaya.
But the new Portrait of a Generation campaign for the Valentino Pre-Fall 2022 Promenade Collection takes the youthful vigor to a whole new place. Staged in London, the choice of Shoreditch as a location is surely meant as a statement of sorts, as – despite years of robust gentrification – it is a neighborhood that is still driven by young energy and ideas. Behind the lens for the shoot was American artist/model/photographer Michael Bailey Gates, whose provocative portraits have notably challenged established but atrophying notions of gender.
In the accompanying campaign film, we see next-generation, up-and-coming models Peipei Tang, Smilla Osswald, Chu Wong, Estrella, and Anyiel Majok, amongst others, soaking in the mostly cloudy, sometimes sunny (isn’t it always the way?) East London atmosphere. A jaunty, playful suite of strings provides the musical backdrop, so very sonically autumn-like, building to a particularly dramatic finish.
There’s a distinct naturalness to the way each is wearing pieces from the collection, likely due to them being given the opportunity to chose their own ensemble. All are strikingly framed against the captivating historic architecture of Arnold Circus, an 18th Century circular just minutes’ walk from Brick Lane.
“I want to breathe life into Valentino,” Piccioli enthuses, as if he somehow hasn’t been doing that all along. “I want its idea of perfect beauty to be somehow stained, so to speak, by the reality of today’s life, and to make it alive and relevant for a community of people with no reverence towards fashion, but who inhabit fashion with sentiment and an attitude of personal creativity.”