Zendaya always understands the assignment. Singing, dancing, acting, modeling — is there anything she can’t do? No wonder Valentino is partnering with this quadruple threat (once again) for their fall ad campaign. Entitled Roman Palazzo, the series of sensual black and white photos is going more personal than ever. Instead of fronting the campaign as a model, Zendaya is meant to be the physical embodiment of the brand’s values.
While the actress has modeled for the fashion house’s previous campaigns, Creative Director Pierpaolo Piccioliwanted this version to highlight her as a person rather than a model. “This is why I chose her, for all that she represents. Throughout an aesthetic choice, it is possible to represent a whole identity. This is the power of fashion and this is the power of human beings,” Piccioli said via Zoom. “I think it’s fundamental to pass strong messages through the identity of a person and Zendaya perfectly represents the values that I want Valentino to stand for, such as equality and inclusivity. I chose Zendaya as a person, for what she stands for, and not as a model.”
Lensed by David Sims, the campaign features Zendaya at the Palace Theatre in Los Angeles. Alongside images that Piccioli says are “more powerful than words,” a series of short clips are also set to be released showing Zendaya casually longing in an armchair, sitting at a desk, memorizing lines from a script, and performing on stage. While Piccioli was unable to attend the shoot due to travel restrictions, the designer says he still pulled all nighters with Zendaya and Sims from his home in Nettuno. A task that doesn’t seem all that bad when you consider it’s with this close knit team.
Piccioli said he chose Sims as the photographer for personal and sentimental reasons. Co-Creative Directors of Valentino, Picciolo and Maria Grazia Chiuri were long-time partners until Chiuri’s exit in 2016. When the designer was first named the sole creative director of Valentino, Sims photographed the first Rockstud campaign and the first Valentino ads. “He was there in significant moments for the brand and for myself and this is another moment of change,” Piccioli says. “Together we can catch the more personal side [of Zendaya], these images have an intimate feel, emphasized by the fact that they are in black and white. I did not want a fashion photo but a portrait of a new generation that would represent the new Valentino values.” Zendaya as well also brought along her long-time stylist, Law Roach to work on the shoot. The singer and activist has always worked with the same stylist, and for this campaign in particular this factor allowed for her confidence and authenticity to remain true.
Featured within the fall images are The Valentino Garavani Rockstud Alcove collection, an accessory line that aims to express sensuality and raw human senses. Items like the Double Handle bag with a V logo covered in studs, the Box bag featuring clean geometric lines, and Alcove shoes crafted from a combination of mesh and leather all manage to translate this eroticism into objects.
And like the Queen she is, “Zendaya is once again [was] able to interpret this vision in her very ‘Zendaya way,’ she is aware of her bodily presence and she matches it with a radical romanticism that is completely aligned with everything we are doing in our brand” praises Piccioli.
If someone, anyone, could print this for us in a wall-sized poster, that’d be great.