Alessandro Michele and Pierpaolo Piccioli. The Diaries of Distance

Excerpts from the interviews published in full on the social media of Vogue Italia

Alessandro Michele, creative director of Gucci

Where and how is this period of isolation spending? Is it possible to do his work remotely?

I am spending it in my Roman home with my partner, trying to occupy and welcome this precious time in my life in a gentle way. For all of us it’s a traumatic moment, I’m trying to go through it in the best possible way. I discovered that you can work with great generosity, because being at home allows me to imagine more, think and at the same time be able to communicate with the people of the studio and the company with means that I had not used before and they can help a lot. I also try to understand how this time can be used to build a new way of processing it, because this pause forces us to imagine even a tomorrow that now we don’t know when it will be. I am imagining it different, better; I feel very changed.

When I have a break between telephone and business appointments, I try to find spaces for myself and occupy the void in a virtuous way. I’m rereading There enchanted mountain by Thomas Mann, an incredible novel, and where this stillness is told in an excellent way. A long time ago I started guitar lessons and I take the opportunity to play it. And I’m doing an ancient thing, knitting, crochet: learned at five, six years, it helps me, I call it a beautiful prayer. In those moments I travel with my head, while I repeat that gesture that produces an interweaving that will then become an object. I’m making a cap.

Have you established new routines? Which of the abandoned ones do you miss most?

My routines resemble the old ones: I get up early, get dressed and move to the living room to work. Not through the doorstep and this does not allow me to go down the street among the people, stop at the bar and have a coffee with my partner. I am a very tactile person who likes to have relationships, look into the eyes and now I cannot; but we have to do this, and then embrace each other again. While waiting for something so beautiful, I can resist.

What gives you confidence in these moments?

Several things, I am optimistic by nature. The aftermath will be better than what we have experienced and I am sure that for us this will be a moment of great reflection on what to do, on how to build something that is a bridge that not only crosses this period, but takes us to a better territory, where to live better, embracing the planet and the human and the beautiful things that surround us. When I go up to the terrace in the morning and see the sun, I hear the seagulls, this gives me comfort: nature speaks to us and we must listen to it more.

Do you feel that this forced break in a life of travel, haste and meetings can also change your future priorities? Is there anything you already know that will change or begin to do?

I have always tried to make my busy life my own, authentic. Even travel and opportunities to be with others, I have always made sure to make them authentic, dense. I will dwell more on my actions, I will live them in a deeper way to feel that the things I will do are more true, and will settle inside me. I will move slowly, I will listen more to others and myself. In my run I often don’t listen enough, but I want to say that I work with a group of fantastic people, that of Kering, and in a system that I have always considered authentic. Perhaps it will be enough to continue, because the path taken was virtuous.

Could living in the time of the pandemic also have an impact on your idea of ​​style?

It’s a complicated question: my idea of ​​style is like a birth, the sooner it is conceived. It is a direction that needs things to decant and then there is the immediacy of putting them on paper, on stage, and producing them. Yes, something is in the gestation phase: I am crossing territories sowing, something is changing and I take care of it waiting to bring it to light.

After the crisis, will we have a more caring and attentive understanding of the other?

We will have a different understanding of all the things around us. The sounds will no longer be the same, not even walking on the sidewalk, even listening to the other will be different and perhaps looking at each other will be more sincere. I hope that many of us have understood this lesson which is strong and necessary.

A book, a movie, a TV series that you would recommend to anyone who wants to cheer up? Three songs you listen to these days?

I listen to music of all genres, classical, pop, so much jazz that I love, and right now the Gregorian chants, which I listen to while I work. We must keep in mind that even if motionless, these means and crossings, such as music or writing, are great gifts and with which we can also leave the house. I don’t mean anything in particular, I urge everyone to do it more: we need it and we must find the necessary time even after the coronavirus.

Who is the person who can’t wait to hug you?

Absolutely my sister and my two grandchildren whom I love as if they were my children: I miss them very much. And then everyone, who makes me coffee in the morning: I need the human and humanity and my hugs will be for everyone.

Pierpaolo Piccioli, creative director of Valentino

Pierpaolo Piccioli photo by Inez & Vinoodh.

“I am spending these days of isolation in my home in Nettuno, together with my family and I take advantage of the social distance to reflect and review a little bit of everything, from deep values ​​to the way in which these can then be transmitted through my work.

I am fortunate to be engaged, in this period, in the design of the next three collections: it is a phase in which concentration and imagination above all count, so it is relatively easy to carry it on even from home. In this sense, the sudden change of routine can help, because I have more time to draw, read, document myself and go looking for sources of inspiration without an immediate purpose. This extra time puts you in a freer mental condition. We are all forced to stay indoors, but we can and must dream.

Obviously I miss the interaction with my team. I need physical contact with the people I plan and work with and I’m doing everything to keep it alive with long video calls, messages on WhatsApp and the freedom to exchange thoughts through any digital medium at any time. Staying connected with the outside world, with my country has become a fundamental necessity and I see that it also directly affects my tastes. It has never happened to me, for example, to listen exclusively to Italian music as I am doing these days. I think it is the need to manifest a simple patriotic feeling that makes you find yourself: my wife Simona, the children and I in the backyard singing and dancing with Italian songs in the background; in ideal communion with the balconies and the many events that keep the country united.

If I try to look forward, I am confident that the severe coronavirus crisis can also cause positive changes in my profession. Fashion will have to find a way to move forward and I will affirm it with all the responsibility I feel right now for a company. I want the collections that will come out not to reflect, but to know how to react to this phase: with lightness, poetry and with more dreams than before. I believe we will all need to dream. It is the message contained in my mantra, which I have never changed. It is a neon hanging in the office, reports the last sentence of a Pasolini poem taken from Lutheran letters: “We don’t want to be immediately dreamless.”

This health crisis has shown that what we really need is very little, if little can be called affections and people and hugs. So I would like in the near future fashion to reflect and amplify precisely this emotion, the rediscovered sense of being together ».

(Text collected by Michele Neri)

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