In June 2016, it was announced that Chiuri had stepped down from her role as co-creative director of Valentino, amidst widespread industry speculation that she would replace Raf Simons as creative director of Christian Dior . Piccioli will continue at Valentino, becoming sole creative director. During their tenure at the house Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli were responsible for the successful redefinition of the Valentino brand codes and the reinvigoration of the business, which reached revenues of $1 billion in 2015.
Chiuri and Piccioli have been creative partners for over twenty years. Alumni of the Istituto Europeo di Design in Rome, Chiuri and Piccioli first met through a mutual friend in the early 1980s, forming a fast friendship. On Chiuri’s appointment as a designer at Fendi in 1989, she immediately drafted Piccioli to work alongside her in the accessories department where they stayed for many years.
In 1999 the pair were personally approached by Valentino to join the company as accessory designers and steadily revamped the luxury brand’s handbag and eyewear collections. In 2003 the duo were selected to design the brand's Red diffusion line. Then, shortly after Valentino Garavani ’s retirement, Chiuri and Piccioli were called upon to oversee the entire accessory range, before being appointed co-creative directors.
In 2007, after the retirement of Valentino Garavani,the company’s new owners, private equity firm Permira, struggled to find the right creative leadership for the business. Though still a red carpet favourite, the brand was unable to reclaim the international cachet it once had. However, in 2008, when Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli took the reins as co-creative directors, the duo breathed new creative energy into the brand and rocketing Valentino back to the forefront of fashion. Sales improved, and lucrative accessories now account for nearly half of sales in some stores. They also revitalised the menswear business.