In August, a month or two after receiving his second vaccine against Covid-19, Pierpaolo Piccioli, the creative director of Valentino, posted a selfie on Instagram. In it, he was smiling on a beach in his hometown – Nettuno, Italy – wearing a black hoodie with the red Valentino “V” logo on the chest. Underneath, instead of the brand name as usual, was the word ‘vaccinated’.
It was funny and citizen, a resolutely contemporary commentary on the place where consumer culture, history and politics meet. Almost immediately, tastes and requests started pouring in: from Marc Jacobs and stylist Zerina Akers; Pieter Mulier, the creator of AlaÃ¯a; and Emanuele Farneti, the former editor-in-chief of Italian Vogue.
Lady Gaga later posted a video of her wearing the same sweatshirt.
âI need this sweatshirt,â wrote Eva Chen, Instagram’s director of fashion partnerships, in the comments to Mr. Piccioli’s post.
“I MUST HAVE,” wrote Zoey Deutch, the actor, in all caps.
Now she can. The sweatshirt, or a slightly raised version of it, will be available on Valentino’s website, and 100 percent of the proceeds will go to UNICEF to support his work with the World Organization’s Covax program. health, which aims to get vaccines to the countries where they are located. not yet widely accessible.
The journey from the selfie to the store, however, was not as straightforward as it initially seems – and has wider implications than anyone might have suspected. Not just because of the tensions around vaccinations, or the optics of a luxury sweatshirt seeming to turn a vaccine into a status symbol. (The Valentino hoodie costs â¬ 590, or roughly $ 690.)
Rather, it’s because Valentino and Mr. Piccioli didn’t make the sweatshirt in the first place.
It had been designed by a Los Angeles-based company called Cloney that specializes in smuggling the city’s cultural credentials (celebrity, social, fashion) and putting them on t-shirts, sweatshirts and baseball caps in small batches. like a kind of Merry Prankster meta commentary at the time. (Clone-y. Get it?) Mr. Piccioli and his team had discovered the products online, like most Cloney fans.
Then Mr. Piccioli had a choice to make. He could have done what most luxury brands have traditionally faced with unauthorized use of their logo: shed their weight and send a cease and desist letter to Cloney. (For a recent example, see Nike, which sued art collective MSCHF for its âSatan shoes,â made with Air Max 97s.)
Alternatively, he could have just lifted the idea and hoped Diet Prada hadn’t noticed. Instead, Mr. Piccioli bought back Cloney’s remaining stock (there were only five hoodies left), not to hide it from the world but to give it to family, friends and Gaga – and post it on Instagram.
âI can talk about frills and bows, but sometimes you have to use your voice to say what you really believe, and I think it’s our social responsibility to get ourselves vaccinated,â Piccioli said. âIt is not a symbol of freedom not to be vaccinated. It is a symbol of disrespect for others. The sweatshirt, he thought, was a âgreatâ way to put it. And he wasn’t, he realized when he saw the response to his selfie, the only one.
But, he said, “I didn’t want to steal the idea – although I would have liked to have had it first.” He therefore contacted Duke Christian George III, the founder of Cloney.
Mr. George started Cloney in 2019 after a career as a dancer and actor. Before it became the name of his clothing brand, Cloney was the name of a rap group he started and consisted of “two guys who wore George Clooney tuxedos and masks”. His goal with the original sweatshirt was, Mr. George said, as his goal with all of his merchandise, including a “Kim Is My Lawyer” hoodie made in honor of Kim Kardashian’s efforts to get past the bar. , “to make a respectful noise about what is going on in the world.
Understanding the mandates of vaccines and masks in the United States
- Vaccination rules. On August 23, the Food and Drug Administration fully approved Pfizer-BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine for people 16 years of age and older, paving the way for increased tenure in the public and private sectors. Private companies increasingly require vaccines for their employees. Such warrants are authorized by law and have been confirmed in court challenges.
- Mask rules. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in July recommended that all Americans, regardless of immunization status, wear masks in indoor public places in areas affected by epidemics, a reversal of guidelines it offered in May. . See where the CDC guidelines would apply and where states have instituted their own mask policies. The battle for masks has become controversial in some states, with some local leaders defying state bans.
- College and universities. More than 400 colleges and universities require students to be vaccinated against Covid-19. Almost all of them are in states that voted for President Biden.
- Schools. California and New York City have both introduced vaccination mandates for educational staff. A survey released in August found that many American parents of school-aged children are opposed to mandatory vaccines for students, but were more in favor of mask mandates for students, teachers and staff who don’t. don’t have their vaccines.
- Hospitals and medical centers. Many hospitals and large healthcare systems are requiring their employees to be vaccinated against Covid-19, citing an increase in the number of cases fueled by the Delta variant and stubbornly low vaccination rates in their communities, even within their hand -work.
- New York City. Proof of vaccination is required from workers and customers for indoor meals, gyms, shows and other indoor situations, although enforcement does not begin until September 13. Teachers and other education workers in the city’s vast school system will need to have at least one vaccine dose by September 27, with no possibility of weekly testing. Employees of the city’s hospitals must also get vaccinated or undergo weekly tests. Similar rules are in place for New York State employees.
- At the federal level. The Pentagon has said it will seek to make coronavirus vaccination mandatory for the nation’s 1.3 million active-duty soldiers “no later than” mid-September. President Biden announced that all civilian federal employees should be vaccinated against the coronavirus or undergo regular testing, social distancing, mask requirements and restrictions on most travel.
He was, he said, both “devastated and so excited” when Valentino made contact. âIt’s the best case scenario for anything I do,â he said. âThe ultimate victory. “
(Mr. George has never been sued by any of the businesses he “borrowed” from, including the Beverly Hills Hotel and Dan Tana’s restaurant.)
Mr. Cloney and Mr. Piccioli agreed that Valentino would manufacture the hoodies in his factories, according to his standards. The finished product would have both logos on the body and would be a Valentino x Cloney production. Mr. George would effectively donate the idea, and Valentino would donate the money – around â¬ 800,000 (or around $ 938,000) to start with, which is based on how many sweatshirts they plan to sell.
The result will be either a badge of honor or a lightning rod. Probably both. After all, not all of the comments under Mr. Piccioli’s original selfie were favorable. âIt’s very unattractive because it creates a wedge between people. Every person has the right to decide about their own health, âwrote a poster. Either way, the garment will take the vaccine selfie to a new level.
Mr Piccioli, who said everyone on his design team has been vaccinated, although Valentino does not require it of company employees, said he hoped the sweatshirt would encourage others. fashion brands to take a public stand on the issue of vaccination. And, maybe, do better when it comes to recognizing the work of others.
To that end, he was considering whether or not to put the V-for-Vaccination hoodies on his Paris Fashion Week show. Does that kind of fashion statement have its place on the catwalk, he thought?