Valentino celebrates love and literature with its latest Narratives campaign

LITERATURE continues to have an important influence on fashion design. From Kim Jones’ reflection upon Virginia Woolf’s Orlando in his debut couture collection for Fendi (Spring 2022), to Miuccia Prada’s depiction of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in her Fall 2019 menswear collection for Prada, the two art-forms merging, be it on the page or on the runway, is by no means a new phenomenon.

Valentino, however, have experimented with literature in a more uncharted sense with their latest advertising campaign, one which uses words as a marketing medium and champions the work of some of the world’s most recognised authors.

Following on from their original campaign in May 2021, Narratives II is the second instalment of the words-only commercial venture which celebrates “love in all its forms”, a perfect follow-on from the hot pink extravaganza that was their Fall 2022 ready-to-wear collection. 

Words penned by the likes of David Sedaris, Emily Ratajkowski, Hanif Kureishi and Serang Chung appeared in the windows of independent bookstores in cities including Baltimore and Málaga on World Poetry Day, various interpretations of the theme of love providing and optimistic and overtly comforting vision to a world barely emerging from two years of coronavirus devastation and witnessing an outbreak of yet another war, this time between Ukraine and Russia.

In total, 17 authors have leant their voices to Valentino for the campaign, whom have once again collaborated with Emma Roberts and Karah Preiss and their Bellerist bookclub for the event.

The Valentino Narratives II campaign shot outside Cafe Con Libros (left) and Greedy Reads (right), Images courtesy of Valentino

The Valentino Narratives II campaign shot outside Cafe Con Libros (left) and Greedy Reads (right).
Images courtesy of Valentino

The campaign, albeit inspiring and refreshing, comes as no shock when regarding the frequent revisitation of literary work by the houses creative director, Pierpaolo Piccioli. Since taking the helm in 2016, Piccioli has often merged writing with his own artistic craft, be it having Rupi Kaur perform at the Valentino TKY show in Japan in 2018, or collaborating with the Strand Bookstore in both 2019 and 2020.

Through his utilisation of words to market his designs, Piccioli appears committed to values of authenticity and individuality, all while hoping to build a “multi vocal community”. 

The colourful array of posters included in the project, combined with its overriding theme likewise appears to pre-empt Pride month in June. Whether this is an intentional reference or rather a metaphorical one, the idea of commemorating “love in all its forms” certainly seems celebratory and comparable to Pride. This idea is enhanced through the campaign’s promotion of writers including André Aciman – author of queer literature classic Call Me by Your Name – and activist Alok Vaid-Menon – author of Beyond the Gender Binary.

The release of the campaign is certain to generate conversation surrounding the Italian Haute Couture house, one which may perhaps steer away from their position as a fashion brand and yet one which encourages the promotion of the literary arts and writers in all their forms, much like they do love. 

by Ben Sanderson