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A Knight on the Town: France Honors Giambattista Valli for His Contributions to Fashion

The evening was studded with comparisons to masters of art. Applause erupted as Picasso compared Valli to her grandfather Pablo, saying “I think that both have the same impressive ability to capture the essence of life and modernity. I’m sure that my grandfather would have appreciated Giambattista’s way of disrupting the codes of fashion.”

In her opening remarks, Wintour mentioned that Valli’s jewelry collection would now expand to include the precious medallion that comes with one of France’s highest honors. “A Roman in the French capital, Giamba seems destined to have become a couturier and continue the tradition set by past masters such as Christian Dior and his Italian mentor, Roberto Capucci—from whom he learned a thing or two about volume,” she said. On one of his early visits to Vogue, Wintour recalled Valli saying that he wanted his dresses to defy gravity. “That’s what they do, but they also lift spirits with their soft and generous proportions and movement, and of course they’re beautiful.”

Diana Widmaier Picasso and Francois-Henri Pinault.

Victor Boyko/Getty Images

But beyond red carpet appearances by Rihanna and others like Amal Clooney, Queen Rania of Jordan and Gwyneth Paltrow, success came thanks to friends like the Brandolinis, Battaglia, and Lauren Santo Domingo, whom Wintour called some of Valli’s best models. “Those friends know better than anyone how tuned into the world Giamba is and how brilliantly he navigates it,” she said, revealing that they call him “the Queen of Positano” for the way every door—leading to the best restaurants, private gardens, beaches and nightclubs—opens to Valli and everyone in his orbit. “To travel with him anywhere is to be taken to all the museums, all the antique shops and bookstores—his eye never leaves him, he sees beauty everywhere.”

“Tonight is a dream come true,” said Valli, who thanked Wintour for being the first to encourage him to design haute couture. Switching into French, he thanked the French Republic for welcoming talents from all over the world and supporting freedom of creative expression in art as in couture. He also thanked the Brandolini family for being an inspiration for every sketch, and his atelier, especially Laura Bonacina and Elia Quadri. Turning towards his 10-year-old son, Valli offered words of advice: “Never stop dreaming. Be sure to dream big—and to share it.”



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