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Walter Chiapponi: “I found young artisanal enthusiasts”

“I found very talented students. They have a great interest in culture and are fascinated by Italian craftsmanship.” Tod’s creative director Walter Chiapponi has no doubt: the Italian fashion industry and its supply chain have no reason to fear for their future as young people are ready to enter companies with excellent training, a fresh and brave vision and a flood of ideas. 

Why is Chiapponi so optimistic about tomorrow’s fashion players? The answer is quite simple: he met and worked with them. After the outstanding success of Istituto Marangoni for Tod’s Academy, the Italian company’s creative director Walter Chiapponi launched his New Artisanal Aesthetics mentorship programme in December. With the project targeting students from the Fashion Design Master’s programme at Istituto Marangoni Milano, he wanted to investigate and share the values of Italian craftsmanship and savoir-faire with these up-and-coming designers.

Walter Chiapponi with Istituto Marangoni students and Sara Maino

Walter Chiapponi with Istituto Marangoni students and Sara Sozzani Maino

A great opportunity for young talents to showcase their creativity, Chiapponi’s mentorship programme led them to ask themselves how to rediscover Italian style while staying true to a brand’s core values and Made-in-Italy craftsmanship.

Now that the students imagined their capsule collections for Tod’s and submitted their final works, it is time for Walter Chiapponi to offer a series of reflections and to nominate the four best students.

However, before finding out how things went down, here are a few insights into what Chiapponi and Istituto Marangoni students shared during their joint journey into New Artisan Aesthetics.

Istituto Marangoni students during Tod's Mentorship Program final Delivery

Istituto Marangoni students during Tod's Mentorship Program final Delivery
 
Everything you need to know about the fashion journey of Tod’s creative director Walter Chiapponi 

Walter Chiapponi was born in Milan. An innate creative urge and love of art marked his path from an early age, leading him to embrace art studies, focusing on plastic and figurative arts.

Meeting the Italian fashion designer and entrepreneur Alessandro dell’Acqua was crucial for Chiapponi’s fashion debut. The story of the creative, or artisan – as Walter Chiapponi calls himself – began 25 years ago in a flat where Dell’Acqua and five designers presented their idea of erotic elegance to the Milanese scene. 

In 2001, Chiapponi’s appointment as Blumarine’s design director became a stepping stone for his career. He was later asked to join Riccardo Tisci in Paris as his first assistant when he took over the Givenchy atelier, working on both ready-to-wear and couture.

Back in Italy in 2007, Walter Chiapponi started working for prestigious fashion houses on the international scene: he joined Valentino under the creative helm of Alessandra Facchinetti, then Gucci with Frida Giannini and Miuccia Prada’s Miu Miu. In 2016, he was the design director at Bottega Veneta, first under Tomas Maier and later under Daniel Lee. 

Since October 2019, he has led Tod’s design studio as creative director of the Italian brand, responsible for defining and expressing the house’s vision across women’s and men’s collections. “Walter Chiapponi’s gentle determination is prodding Tod’s in a direction that’s syncing with the times while keeping the label’s pedigree of upscale casualwear at its core,” Vogue reported. “Chiapponi is introducing more fashion sensibility into Tod’s repertoire.”

Describing himself as both a creative director and an artisan, Walter Chiapponi constantly looks for a physical connection with what he creates. One of his mantras is: “Get dressed, don’t dress up.”

Walter Chiapponi during the Mentorship final delivery with Istituto Marangoni students' projects

Walter Chiapponi during Tod's Mentorship Final Delivery with Istituto Marangoni students' projects
 
Walter Chiapponi and Istituto Marangoni Milano students sat together to find new definitions for craftsmanship: a word often read as old and dusty, ‘craftsmanship’ can take on entirely new meanings

As an inspiring project that explores the values of Italian craftsmanship and translates the results into a capsule collection for Tod’s, New Artisanal Aesthetics’ goal was to find new definitions of craftsmanship. A word often read as old and dusty, ‘craftsmanship’ can take on entirely new meanings.

By meeting the students several times for project reviews, Chiapponi revealed his working method to IM talents. “I have a very precise mindset, and I am extremely well organised. However, when creativity comes to me, my mind becomes a bottomless pit, and I have to stop at some point, or I could go on researching forever,” he stated.

“I am a creative director as well as an artisan. I work on things in a physical way – I cut, sew, disassemble and then re-assemble pieces” – Tod’s creative director Walter Chiapponi

“I do not draw a lot,” Walter Chiapponi continued. “I rather try to have physical contact with items, an attitude reinforced by the time I spent with Daniel Lee at Bottega Veneta – physicality and a spontaneous approach are crucial for his creative practice too.”

As the New Artisanal Aesthetics mentorship programme focused on craftsmanship, passion and Italianness, Tod’s creative director was thrilled to discover the students’ outcomes. “When I first saw the projects the students were working on, I realised they were talking about craftsmanship, about Italy, and I was very surprised,” he said. “I advised them never to limit their creativity and to be brave.”

Istituto Marangoni students' projects at Tod's Mentorship final delivery

Istituto Marangoni students'projects at Tod's Mentorship final delivery
 
Ready to know what Walter Chiapponi’s mentorship programme has led to? We’ve got you covered

The in-depth analysis, research and hard work done by Fashion Design Master’s students ended just a few days ago. With Sara Sozzani Maino, Walter Chiapponi joined the Istituto Marangoni Milano school to shortlist the best among them.

“At Istituto Marangoni Milano, I found talented students and young artisanal enthusiasts” – Tod’s creative director Walter Chiapponi 

“I found many talented students. They have a great interest in culture and are fascinated by Italian craftsmanship,” Chiapponi said after reviewing the projects and thanking the students for their dedication.

After reviewing the students’ ideas for capsule collections, Tod’s creative director seemed quite convinced of his shortlist, which he discussed with Sozzani Maino before announcing the winners. Let the drums roll: the four best students are Jiawang Liu, Elisa Sanfilippo, Hongbo Wang and Tan Changxin. Congrats!

 Walter Chapponi with Istituto Marangoni students and Sara Sozzani Maino

Walter Chiapponi with Istituto Marangoni students and Sara Sozzani Maino

 

Arianna Guion
Fashion Styling student, 3rd year, Milan
Course
Programme
postgraduate-Master's Degrees • Master's Courses