If you scroll down your Instagram feed, you are more than likely to come across millions of start-up brands that, unequivocally, are contending for a place within the industry. But no matter the saturation present in the creative system, through perseverance and ceaseless challenges, triumphs do occur: VALENTI is solid proof. The Italian fashion designer’s collections take inspiration from both present and past, delving into the spheres of art, music, and cinema, with notes of classicism fused with an 80’s sleek-grunge vibe. All of these influences are subverted by contemporary fabrics and ravishing silhouettes. The designer, driven by the idea of sublime craftsmanship, has at the age of 26 already graced the pages of global publications including Vogue Italia, L’Officiel UA, Schon Magazine and more. We catch up with one of the most trailblazing designers of the Italian landscape.

Hey Nicole, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hello! My name is Nicole Valenti. I am 26 years old and proudly Italian. I studied Fashion Design in Milan at the Marangoni Institute. Previously, I used to study Biotechnology, but I then realized that fashion was my true calling.4 best words that best describe your persona…
Determined, dreamer, creative, ITALIAN!

Have you always craved to be a fashion designer?
Since my early childhood, I have always been fascinated by fashion. The endless shapes a piece of clothing could acquire truly enthused me. However, I was particularly fascinated by the strong identity that brands manage to conjure in order to make their clothes instantly recognizable, such as Versace’s prints, the iconic Burberry trench, or Armani suits. Recently, I have also loved discovering the eclecticism of Gucci or Jacquemus, labels that craft huge hats and tiny bags, or perhaps Balenciaga’s extravaganza, featuring powerfully structured jackets. Each brand has that distinguishable feature that makes it unique, and that’s what I love the most.

When did your brand, VALENTI, start?
VALENTI was established in February 2018. I am very satisfied with the good feedback I have received so far, has attracted the attention of important and well-established stylists who are interested in my vision. It pleases me when someone looks at VALENTI and immediately identifies the brand’s mood.

Could you talk us through your collections, explaining your inspirations?
I am currently working on my third collection and from June, I decided to focus on menswear too. The very first collection (Autumn/Winter 2018), was a mini capsule of eight women’s dresses, focusing on the strong female mindset typical of the 80s. Playful, sometimes a little youthful, portraying figures who want to emulate their mothers in the way they dress.

This year’s spring collection speaks of a woman with a more mature sensibility, while the Autumn/Winter 19 collection is a capsule, introducing menswear. I really enjoyed playing with the shaping and wearability of the pieces, tampering with the idea of women embodying a male allure, creating androgyny without a defined gender. In general, VALENTI is highly inspired by the 80s. My greatest sources of inspiration are the videos and photographs of my family (birthdays, baptisms, summer vacations, etc.) I love being able to perceive quintessential Italian looks in my work. A core aim of mine is to tell a story reminiscing Italian values, with a somewhat bourgeois taste, which tends to be unique.

When did you choose to go into fashion, and what has led you to do so?
In 2014, I made the decision to start a fashion academy, with the full support of my family. Despite the fact I had entered the faculty of medicine, my father (being a doctor) was rooting for me. The first year was of extreme difficulty for me, as I never sketched a fashion figure with the principles imposed by the fashion system. I never used a sewing machine, let alone created patterns! Slowly, thanks also to the professors who taught us everything from scratch, I was able to learn an awful lot. They were three very intense years, but utterly fundamental for my progression!

Take me through your creative process…
I draw a lot of figures derived from movies, books, and even music. I often realize that based on what I listen to, my drawing style changes! Also, attending exhibitions is another great source of inspiration! I am very impressed with the scenes of everyday life when I go out. I feel like a human sponge that absorbs everything that surrounds me to get ideas! When I have to design a collection, I close myself like a hermit and I draw. As soon as I have a good amount of drawings, I study them, reevaluate if I can make any changes, discard those that are not good enough and I create a collective thread for the collection.

What message are you trying to portray across your apparel?
I would like to portray a message of tradition preserved in a modern key, to ensure that the final product makes the generations leak out in equilibrium, not in conflict. A message of real beauty not hidden behind the convoluted and artificial design, but of extreme clarity, with a clean direct image.

Do you feel empowered and able to make a statement through fashion?
As a new and emerging designer, I am established enough to affect the industry as much as other noteworthy labels could. Nonetheless, I would like to break the barriers of male and female fashion. At the level of manual craft, I hope that people can perceive my talent. I feel very capable of doing my job. Though at present, I am not in a position to create a revolution as my journey has only commenced! But I hope that in the near future, no matter how small, I will be able to make a difference.

What do you see coming for your brand in 2019?
I hope to see a continuous and exponential growth of both VALENTI, but also myself as a designer. I hope to be able to cover my slice of the market and to meet future consumers and collaborators who appreciate the brand VALENTI and are fascinated by its philosophy.

Words by Chidozie Obasi
For more information, see VALENTI