Valentino wants everyone to be vaxxed – and cloned



In August, a month or two after receiving his second vaccine against Covid-19, Pierpaolo Piccioli, the creative director of Valentino, posted a selfie on Instagram. In it, he was smiling on a beach in his hometown – Nettuno, Italy – wearing a black hoodie with the red Valentino “V” logo on the chest. Underneath, instead of the brand name as usual, was the word ‘vaccinated’.

It was funny and citizen, a resolutely contemporary commentary on the place where consumer culture, history and politics meet. Almost immediately, tastes and requests started pouring in: from Marc Jacobs and stylist Zerina Akers; Pieter Mulier, the creator of Alaïa; and Emanuele Farneti, the former editor-in-chief of Italian Vogue.

Later Lady Gaga posted a video of herself wearing the same sweatshirt.

“I need this sweatshirt,” wrote Eva Chen, Instagram’s director of fashion partnerships, in the comments to Mr. Piccioli’s post.

“I MUST HAVE,” wrote Zoey Deutch, the actor, in all caps.

Now she can. The sweatshirt, or a slightly raised version of it, will be available on Valentino’s website, and 100 percent of the proceeds will go to UNICEF to support his work with the World Health Organization Covax Program, which focuses on getting vaccines to countries where they are not yet widely available.

The journey from the selfie to the store, however, was not as straightforward as it initially seems – and has wider implications than anyone might have suspected. Not just because of the tensions around vaccinations, or the optics of a luxury sweatshirt seeming to turn a vaccine into a status symbol. (The Valentino hoodie costs € 590, or roughly $ 690.)

Rather, it’s because Valentino and Mr. Piccioli didn’t make the sweatshirt in the first place.

It had been designed by a Los Angeles company called Cloney which specializes in smuggling the city’s cultural credentials (celebrity, social, fashion) and putting them on t-shirts, sweatshirts and baseball caps in small quantities as a sort of Merry Prankster meta-commentary on the moment. (Clone-y. Get it?) Mr. Piccioli and his team had discovered the products online, like most Cloney fans.

Then Mr. Piccioli had a choice to make. He could have done what most luxury brands have traditionally faced with unauthorized use of their logo: shed their weight and send Cloney a cease and desist letter. (For a recent example, see Nike, which sued art collective MSCHF for its “Satan shoes,” made with Air Max 97s.)

Alternatively, he could have just lifted the idea and hoped Diet Prada hadn’t noticed. Instead, Mr. Piccioli bought back Cloney’s remaining stock (there were only five hoodies left), not to hide it from the world but to give it to family, friends and Gaga – and the post on Instagram.

“I can talk about ruffles and knots, but sometimes you have to use your voice to say what you really believe, and I think it’s our social responsibility to get vaccinated,” Piccioli said. “It is not a symbol of freedom not to be vaccinated. It is a symbol of disrespect for others. The sweatshirt, he thought, was a “great” way to put it. And he wasn’t, he realized when he saw the response to his selfie, the only one.

But, he said, “I didn’t want to steal the idea – although I would have liked to have had it first.” He therefore contacted Duke Christian George III, the founder of Cloney.

Mr. George started Cloney in 2019 after a career as a dancer and actor. Before it became the name of his clothing brand, Cloney was the name of a rap group he started, consisting of “two guys who wore George Clooney tuxedos and masks”. His goal with the original sweatshirt was, Mr. George said, as his goal with all of his merchandise, including a “Kim Is My Lawyer” hoodie made in honor of Kim Kardashian’s efforts to get past the bar. , “to make a respectful noise about what is going on in the world.

He was, he said, both “devastated and so excited” when Valentino made contact. “It’s the best case scenario for anything I do,” he said. “The ultimate victory. “

(Mr. George has never been sued by any of the companies he “borrowed” from, including the Beverly Hills Hotel and Dan Tana’s restaurant.)

Mr. Cloney and Mr. Piccioli agreed that Valentino would manufacture the hoodies in his factories, according to his standards. The finished product would have both logos on the body and would be a Valentino x Cloney production. Mr. George would effectively donate the idea, and Valentino would donate the money – around € 800,000 (or around $ 938,000) to start with, which is based on how many sweatshirts they plan to sell.

The result will be either a badge of honor or a lightning rod. Probably both. After all, not all of the comments under Mr. Piccioli’s original selfie were favorable. “It’s very unattractive because it creates a wedge between people. Every person has the right to decide about their own health, ”wrote a poster. Either way, the garment will take the vaccine selfie to a new level.

Mr Piccioli, who said everyone on his design team has been vaccinated, although Valentino does not require it from company employees, said he hoped the sweatshirt would encourage others. fashion brands to take a public stand on the issue of vaccination. And, maybe, do better when it comes to recognizing the work of others.

To that end, he was considering whether or not to put the V-for-Vaccination hoodies on his Paris Fashion Week show. Does that kind of fashion statement have its place on the catwalk, he thought?

“Maybe yes.”


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