Meet Valentino’s Accidental “Mascot,” Which Inspired Its Entire Collection

Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli, the designers behind Valentino, have always been into animal motifs for the brand, whether it’s butterflies or unicorns or octopuses. But at their most recent haute couture collection, presented in the duo's hometown of Rome, they unveiled probably the most meaningful icon yet: A depiction of a black eagle, recently discovered in the ceilings of Valentino's atelier, was represented in the opening look of its 2015 show. It also dotted the invitations and, as we show in this video made in collaboration with Visionaire, is hugely symbolic of Valentino’s past, present, and future.

The eagle — or, in Italian, aquila — was a prominent military symbol of ancient Rome. Each troop would have its own eagle relic, and there were people designated to carry the relics and protect them from being lost or ruined (wars were even fought to recover lost aquilae). Although all the aquilae from the Roman armies have vanished forever, it's a wonderful metaphor that Valentino found its own version, hidden among its rafters. “[It] immediately became the mascot of the collection,” said Piccioli. The red ribbon in its beak is also a Roman symbol, which represents victory and courage, lending more significance to the icon.

The duo has been at the helm of Valentino for just seven years, and in that short time has turned the brand into something that feels urgently relevant and is as empowering as it is inspiring — and the fact that Chiuri and Piccioli found the lost Valentino aquila right after a string of industry and financial successes is almost storybook-perfect.

Says Piccioli, “[This collection] was in a way giving this eagle, giving Romans, giving couture a new life. It’s like a new way to see the future.”

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