Dior’s Olympic Ambassador, Valentino in SoHo, Talking Rick Owens

SK8ER BOI: Dior is beefing up the ranks of its brand ambassadors with another Olympic hopeful. The French luxury brand said Wednesday it has signed champion skateboarder Aurélien Giraud, who is vying to take home a gold medal at the Paris Olympics.

“Audacious, creative and spontaneous, the multi award-winning world champion — and contender for the Olympic Games Paris 2024 — henceforth embodies the spirit of Dior style, where sportswear, heritage and reinvention converge,” the brand said in a statement.

The 26-year-old from Lyon, who started skateboarding at the age of four, was world champion in 2022 and came sixth at the Tokyo 2020 Games, which marked skateboarding’s Olympic debut.

“I was really, really disappointed. I had started off really well and finished first in the qualifications round. I was all set to win gold and unfortunately, I didn’t do well in my final. An old knee injury caught up with me, so we’ve made sure the same thing doesn’t happen again in Paris in order to win the gold, ideally, but at the minimum walk away with a medal. That’s the goal,” Giraud told WWD ahead of the Dior men’s show in Paris in January.  

Wearing a shearling-lined bomber jacket, white turtleneck sweatshirt and baggy jeans, he said he was a longtime fan of Dior menswear designer Kim Jones. “To me, Dior represents French elegance,” he said. “Kim Jones is doing an insane job. I’m a huge fan of everything he does and what it represents. It’s long been my favorite luxury brand.”

Aurelien Giraud

Aurelien Giraud

Stephane Feugere/WWD

While Giraud enjoys bringing some swag to the skate park, he’s learned to balance form and function. “It’s important to feel good and to give a glimpse of your personality,” he said. “But growing up, knowing what I know now, I would opt for a mix between comfort and style.”

Don’t expect him to rock a pair of Dior’s super chunky Skater B9S sneakers on the job. Giraud’s sponsor in that department is skateboard footwear specialist Etnies. During the Games, he will wear the official uniforms designed by Stéphane Ashpool and manufactured by French athleticwear brand Le Coq Sportif.

Still, he has plenty of time to make a statement between now and the opening ceremony on July 26, when the French teams will walk out dressed in Berluti, which like Dior is owned by luxury conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.

Up next is the Paris leg of the Street League Skateboarding tour on Feb. 24.

“Then I head to Dubai in early March, then Shanghai in May and Budapest in June and after that, the Olympics,” said Giraud, who is currently ranked third in the Olympic World Skateboarding Rankings maintained by World Skate, the governing body for skateboarding and roller sports.

While the qualifying period ends on June 23, he was confident of making the cut. In the meantime, he’ll focus on strengthening his lower body for competition.

“Our physical training focuses on muscle strengthening. We strengthen the ankles in order to limit injuries. Finally, we strengthen the legs as much as possible. We also do a lot of core training, but we don’t really do much on the pectoral area because it’s not useful in our sport, and it can even be restrictive,” Giraud explained.

The skateboarder joins surfer Kauli Vaast, gymnast Mélanie de Jesus dos Santos and wheelchair tennis player Pauline Déroulède among the ranks of athletes recruited by Dior in the run-up to the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games. — JOELLE DIDERICH

BACK AGAIN: Valentino is back in SoHo, New York.

The Italian couture house is opening the doors to a new boutique at 98 Prince Street on Wednesday after closing the location at 135 Spring Street in July. The newly renovated, 230-square-meter shop underscores Valentino’s rethought retail strategy, following the opening of its mega Madison Avenue flagship in November.

Inside Valentino's Soho Boutique.

Inside Valentino’s SoHo boutique.

Tommaso Sacconi

The new store concept, conceived internally by chief executive officer Jacopo Venturini and creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli, celebrates the maison’s codes and Italian heritage; is an intimate locale to welcome clients, and “originates from a rethink of the brand’s relationship with its clients, which becomes the central focus of the design story and sets the tone for a client journey inspired by Italian hospitality, devised as a ritual guided by the store team through the spaces,” the brand said in a statement.

Valentino's Soho Boutique.

Valentino’s SoHo boutique.

Tommaso Sacconi

The Valentino SoHo boutique features architectural elements, including glass block tables with lighting; a black oak wood floor; fabric-upholstered walls; an arena-shaped central plexiglass installation and backlit niches along the perimeter. Each high-design touch follows the same level of craftsmanship as Valentino’s Madison Avenue location.

To celebrate the opening, Valentino has teamed up with Italian American fine dining establishment Sartiano’s and Bond Hospitality for a fully branded Valentino takeover of Sartiano’s street-level café, located directly across the street from the boutique at Sartiano’s at the Mercer Hotel, 99 Prince Street.

The café will transform into a Valentino Pink PP-hued pop-up complete with custom-tinted windows (featuring the quote, “Love is the answer, always,” from Piccioli), awnings, matching pink interiors and more in the couture house’s well-known, vibrant hue — perfect for the brand’s loyal clientele, as well as Barbie fans and Valentine’s Day lovers. Valentino Café at Sartiano’s, running Feb. 7 to 14 with reservations available through Resy, will feature a special curated menu courtesy of executive chef Chris Lewnes and culinary director and three-time James Beard award winner Chef Alfred Portale, with a specialty cocktail from Bond Hospitality’s Beverage Director Adam Baca. — EMILY MERCER

FRENCH CLASS: The Palais Galliera in Paris is in talks for an exhibition devoted to American designer Rick Owens, multiple sources told WWD.

Precise timing and themes could not immediately be learned. It is understood the showcase being discussed is for 2025.

Backstage at Rick Owens RTW Spring 2024

Backstage at Rick Owens spring 2024.

Francisco Gomez de Villaboa/WWD

Owens is marking his 30th year in business. He began his fashion career in Los Angeles in 1994, then moved himself and his business to Paris in 2003, where his shows have become a highlight of Paris Fashion Week.

Milan’s La Triennale museum staged a retrospective about Owens’ career in 2017 titled “Subhuman Inhuman Superhuman.”

Palais Galliera’s current exhibition, “Fashion on the Move,” runs through March 15 and is the first of a triptych of exhibitions.

“Fashion on the Move #2” is to open on April 20 and run through January 2025, with the third installment scheduled for Feb. 8 to Sept. 7, 2025.

According to the museum, chapter two “will present a history of fashion from the 18th century to the present day, while developing a transversal theme on the body in movement.”

With Paris set to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer, the museum has selected 300 items from its collections “to explore the role of special clothing in physical and sports activities as well as the sociological factors reflected in its development.”

Palais Galliera recently wound up an exhibition dedicated to the haute couture collection of the late Azzedine Alaïa. It has also dedicated shows to Gabrielle Chanel, Jeanne Lanvin and Martin Margiela. — MILES SOCHA

BALLY’S FIRST: Bally on March 4 will launch the first campaign conceived by creative director Simone Bellotti. The images will be teased on the brand’s social platforms beginning Thursday.

Photographed by Alasdair McLellan in a storied villa in Milan, the campaign will present Bellotti’s first collection, which bowed for spring in Milan last September.


The first ad campaign for Bally by Simone Bellotti.

courtesy of Bally

Models Claudia Ferrier, Lottie Morris, Maria Ermakova, Nazarit Machin, Will Woodward, Josef Ptacek and Gideon Adeniyi are captured looking straight into the camera lounging easily in the villa, wearing Plume loafers, handmade Scribe brogues and Glendale flats. The images also highlight the hero bags of the season such as the Bell and the Ollam, underscoring Bally’s expertise with leather goods developed over the course of 173 years.

Bellotti was appointed to the top design post at the end last May, following the exit of Rhuigi Villaseñor. He had quietly joined Bally in October 2022 after a 16-year tenure at Gucci. Previously he held senior design positions at Dolce & Gabbana, Bottega Veneta and Gianfranco Ferré, boasting an experience in both both ready-to-wear tailoring and accessories.

For his first collection, Bellotti juxtaposed sleek and understated tailoring designs respecting the brand’s heritage with denim looks that had a vague ‘70s feel worn with cozy ribbed sweaters.

Bally, controlled by the JAB holding company, is based in Switzerland and helmed by chief executive officer Nicolas Girotto. — LUISA ZARGANI

NEW YEAR WITH A BANG: Prada on Tuesday unveiled a brand new look for the Chinese Women’s National Football Team ahead of the upcoming Year of the Dragon, which in the eyes of 1.4 billion Chinese citizens and Chinese diaspora around the world represents the beginning of a new cycle.

To support talented young athletes and explore the world of sport, Prada forged a partnership with the Chinese Women’s National Football Team last summer right before the FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

Chinese Women’s National Football Team dressed in new team outfits by Prada

Chinese Women’s National Football Team dressed in new team outfits by Prada.

Courtesy of Prada

Despite the Chinese soccer team being unable to advance beyond the group round facing tough matchups against England and Denmark, the team was hailed as role models back home for being fearless and collaborative.

In the new campaign, 13 players wear bespoke black wool suits with the team’s purple phoenix logo on the front pocket and blue shirts with red collars. They completed the looks with simple black leather belts, red fisherman hats, and brushed leather loafers adorned with Prada’s triangle logos.

Following a slew of former ambassadors such as Zheng Shuang, Cai Xukun and Li Yifeng caught up in scandals, Prada became one of the first luxury brands to embrace sports personalities in China, in a bid to promote a healthy brand image and diversify away from its reliance on celebrity endorsements, a high-risk endeavor under China’s current climate, despite its high returns.

Chinese Women’s National Football Team dressed in new team outfits by Prada

Chinese Women’s National Football Team dressed in new team outfits by Prada.

Courtesy of Prada

In 2022, the brand launched a widely shared Douyin campaign featuring four acclaimed Olympic athletes who represent a range of beauty standards.

The campaign was directed by Hung Huang and featured shotput athlete Gong Lijiao, marathon runner Li Zhixuan, water polo player Xiong Dunhan, and Yang Shuyu, who was later promoted to a brand ambassador.

Prada also counts Chinese table table tennis player and Olympic champion Ma Long as a brand ambassador. — TIANWEI ZHANG

YOUTH QUAKE: Putting the spotlight on an accomplished image maker, Antwerp’s fashion museum is dedicating a spring exhibition to Belgian photographer Willy Vanderperre.

“Willy Vanderperre Prints, Films, a Rave and More…” is to open April 27 and run through Aug. 4 at the MoMu — Fashion Museum Antwerp.

According to the museum, the exhibition will highlight “how Vanderperre’s fascination with youth has been a motivational force for almost three decades.”

Model Julia Nobis photographed by Willy Vanderperre, MoMu exhibition Antwerp.

Model Julia Nobis photographed by Willy Vanderperre.

Willy Vanderperre

The photographer said youth represent “the purest sense of being” in their search, and sometimes struggle, to figure out who they are, and the discoveries made along the way. “Youth represent the future — they bring change, demand it almost,” he said.

The photographer is probably best known for his years of collaboration with designer Raf Simons and stylist Olivier Rizzo.

He has also lensed campaigns for fashion houses including Dior, Prada and Carolina Herrera beside his editorial work for such magazines as AnOther Magazine, Dust, i-D, Perfect, Vogue and W.

Interspersed with about 250 photos will be collectibles, a few T-shirts and artworks that have inspired Vanderperre and influenced his visual universe, including “The Tormented Self-Portrait” by Ashley Bickerton, which depicts an array of consumer brands. “Logos as a time capsule and a reference to a person” is how Rizzo interprets the piece.

Vanderperre, who is curating the display in concert with MoMu’s Romy Cockx, said he hopes the artworks and photos will help people have a better “understanding of my world.” — M.S.

SCHOOL PARTNERS: Canada Goose has signed a multiyear partnership with London’s Central Saint Martins, part of the University of the Arts London, following a fruitful two-year collaboration that led to the launch of the inaugural Humanature Award for Responsible Design.

Building on existing relationships, the new phase of the partnership includes a project that brings together MA Fashion and MA Material Futures for the first time to create new materials and garments that push the boundaries of sustainability and functionality.

The brand will continue to support the MA Material Futures’ annual Basecamp field trip, and hand out the second Humanature Award for Responsible Design to MA Fashion students, whose design is “committed to responsible practice integrating socio-ecological values.”

Additionally, Canada Goose will be a show sponsor for the fashion institute’s MA Fashion show during London Fashion Week.

Juliette Streichenberger, president of CGAG and Europe, the Middle East and Africa at Canada Goose, said the deepened partnership presents “a powerful opportunity to support upcoming talent, further innovation in design, and drive purposeful change from a grassroots level.”

Fall campaign image from Canada Goose

An image from the Canada Goose fall campaign featuring Kimberly Newell, Sophie Darlington and Sheila Atim.

Annie Leibovitz, courtesy of Canada Goose.

The two first worked together in 2022 on student projects, an exhibition, a sustainable fashion panel talk, and the launch of the Humanature Award. The following year, the brand launched the immersive exhibition “Keeping the Planet Cold” in the school’s gallery space Lethaby on Granary Square, King’s Cross.

It featured sustainable outerwear pieces, lifestyle objects and mixed media portfolios from design students Chie Kaya, Arianna Ablondi Pedretti, and Yaku Stapleton, who took home the top L’Oréal Professionnel Creative Award at the press show.

Billed as Canada Goose’s purpose platform, Humanature unites the brand’s sustainability and values-based initiatives, such as goals like net zero emissions by 2025 and ceasing manufacturing with fur at the end of 2022. — T.Z.

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