Walter Chiapponi becomes the new Creative Director of Tod's

With a simple but powerful mantra, Tod’s Creative Director Walter Chiapponi wants to make fashion desirable again. In this interview he reveals details about his creative process, mentors who have guided him, his dreams and visions for the future of fashion and his own wardrobe of more than 500 pairs of shoes.
Reading time 4 minutes
“Fashion is not dead, but it needs to become more sophisticated again,” explains designer Walter Chiapponi, who recently became creative director of the Italian brand Tod’s.

You were tasked with defining a new aesthetic for Tod’s. How would you describe the brand’s DNA today?
The clothes are designed for everyday life - especially for leisure. That makes me very happy, because I dress people for the moments when they engage in their hobbies and have fun. My job is to communicate that feeling, not to revolutionise it.

What makes Tod’s unique as a brand?
There is a kind of security in what we bring to the market: comfortable clothes that are a combination of elegance and modern casual wear, as opposed to being enslaved by the obsession of the need to be trendy. We make timeless pieces to dress people, not to dress them up.

What did you learn from your various mentors and colleagues?
I have been lucky enough to work with some of the greatest masters of fashion. I admire Miuccia Prada’s ability to constantly question herself, her rebellion against beauty stereotypes and her desire to glamourise what others would never look twice at. Riccardo Tisci led me to a partly extroverted, contemporary aesthetic, but he developed it for the Givenchy brand, which has a very different history. I started my career with Alessandro Dell’Acqua, who was an enfant prodige at that time and was challenging certain fashion canons. That was a very transformative experience.

How did the past year shape you?
It was a year when I had to be a real leader and I became aware that I had this personality trait in me as well. With all the video calls with my staff, it was important for me to also see their families in some way, to better understand each person’s daily life. This interaction between the spheres of private life and work provided me with plenty of insights.

What can we expect in terms of trends?
I am tired of hearing about comfortable clothes, pyjamas, and clothes for the home. All this casualness can easily become sloppy and have a negative effect on a mental health level in the long run. There are too many tracksuits and too many sneakers. I want to see people who care about their appearance. Fashion is not just a T-shirt with a big logo.

Yet many argue that fashion is no longer fashionable.
I think I did say something similar before and I regret it because the idea was misinterpreted. I see less creativity today than I did at the beginning of my career. Back then we had left minimalism behind and the wave of English designers was in full swing. It was so much fun. Now a lot of designers think more like entrepreneurs and have gone too far in making fashion accessible. Certain brands have become hyper- popular, showing what is already on the streets, while trying to offer the public a dream has been lost. Fashion is not dead, but it needs to become more sophisticated again.

What is your creative process like?
I have a very detail-oriented mindset and am extremely neat, but when creativity kicks in, I turn into a bottomless pit. At a certain point I have to stop, because otherwise I risk going on forever. I work physically on things. I cut, sew, take garments apart and put them back together. I do not draw much, but I prefer to seek more contact with the object. It is a method that evolved through the time I worked with Daniel Lee at Bottega Veneta. For him, too, haptics and spontaneity are fundamental.

What about your own wardrobe?
I have a huge wardrobe and own more than 500 pairs of shoes. Sometimes I buy something that I already know I will not necessarily wear because it is too eccentric. Nevertheless, I buy it for the pure pleasure of owning marvellous objects. My outfits are never extreme, they just have some extravagant details.

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