Diversity, fairness, and inclusion are at the heart of Gucci’s creative vision, which finds its purest embodiment in Lucrezia Valia. In this conversation, the actress and Gucci Rome senior client advisor reflects upon the key moments of her professional path while stressing the contribution of the LGBTQ+ community to the shaping of today’s creative scene

Interview by: Domenico Costantini

Editing by: Gilda Bruno

To celebrate this year’s Trans Day of Visibility, Collectible DRY caught up with Lucrezia Valia. The actress, mostly known for her role in Ferzan Ozpetek’s Le fate ignoranti (2001), joined the Gucci family back in 2017, when she started working at the Italian brand’s boutiques. Becoming one of the first transgenders to have ever taken on a role at such a prestigious fashion house, Valia — who’s now risen to Gucci Rome senior client advisor — represents the enduring fight for emancipation of the LGBTQ+ community as a whole. 

Discover more below.

A portrait of Lucrezia Valia by photographer Mick Rock for the Gucci Cruise 2018 Campaign: Roman Rhapsody courtesy of Lucrezia Valia

A portrait of Lucrezia Valia by photographer Mick Rock for the Gucci Cruise 2018 Campaign: Roman Rhapsody courtesy of Lucrezia Valia

Collectible Dry: If you were to pick a flavour, what would you say Lucrezia Valia tastes like?

Lucrezia Valia: Lucrezia tastes like red pepper. The Calabrian one, which is linked to my roots. The roots are so important, as Paolo Sorrentino stresses in his masterpiece, The Great Beauty. So I’d say I would identify with a red, spicy, and bitter pepper which, by the way, it’s very good for health purposes. Mom would always give it to me whenever I would travel back to Rome.

CD: What does Rome taste like?

LV: Rome tastes like cotton candy to me. The same scent I would smell when going to the circus or rides with my dad throughout my childhood. Rome is the city of my heart. A strongly desired choice. Rome is art, cinema, and beauty! Rome is home.

CD: Diving into more philosophical matters, if you like, would you agree if I say that the imagination is nothing but dilated and composed memory?

LV: I have lived my whole life imagining and dreaming of a different life. I imagined so much that I went into severe depression twice. Still, it’s that same imagination that made my life sweeter, serving as the weapon through which I would defend myself. In Pedro Almodóvar’s words, “Nothing is truer than the idea that each of us has dreamed of for ourselves,” and I couldn’t agree more with this statement.

CD: What is beauty to you?

LV: What is beauty! Well, that’s a very difficult question. Literature is full of definitions of beauty: nature, art, poetry, music, all of this is beauty. Still, I manage to find beauty even where no one looks for it. I see beauty in the little, imperceptible, and too-often overlooked things. I even see beauty in what the world wants us to perceive as ‘ugliness:’ in fact, I often stop by the homeless and those alienated for society for entire hours, because I find them beautiful. I find the defenseless and the marginalised beautiful. Plus, being polite with them as well as with the rest of those surrounding us is nice, as I think that there is nothing more beautiful than finding the courage to be the truest version of yourself.

CD: What would you say about your fight for freedom as a woman?

LV: We are called to fight for our entire life but, to be completely honest with you, I must confess that I have struggled to be myself just as much as I have struggled to feel part of the transgender community. I fought a lot, but I know I can see that, eventually, it paid off, as I am the pure result of my own achievements. Yes, it is strange that, although I have documents attesting I am a woman, hence I am a woman in the eyes of society, I still have to fight on a daily basis not to be considered a ‘man.’ But wars are over: I have laid down my weapons a long time ago, and I am very peaceful now. I am truly at ease with myself, and I like the person I have become through the years. I love myself, and I couldn’t be happier to share this with you.

"Le fate Ignoranti" a film by Ferzan Ozpetek Courtesy of Lucrezia Valia

“Le fate Ignoranti” a film by Ferzan Ozpetek Courtesy of Lucrezia Valia

CD: In Italian literature, the fate ignoranti (ignorant fairies) are all those people who choose to manifest their most genuine nature, people that are willing to live and express their feelings to the fullest without fearing the judgment of others. They are those who manage to speak outright, people that succeed in co-existing with their own contradictions by distancing themselves from the conjectures of society. You played in Ferzan Ozpetek’s Le Fate Ignoranti (2001) and that’s why I’d love to ask you: to what extent would you consider yourself an ‘ignorant fairy’?

LV: The meeting with Ferzan Ozpetek was a magical encounter that marked a strong change in my life. Life is made up of great encounters, and that to me was an incredible experience. Taking part in that film gave me the opportunity to meet incredible girls and boys, it helped me a lot as it gave me the courage to actually become an ‘ignorant fairy’ myself.

CD: That must have been such a wonderful experience. You know, when I saw Mick Rock’s photographs from the set of the Gucci Cruise 2018 Roman Rhapsody, I thought you looked just like a rock star, even more so in your daily routine. That’s probably what I’d think if I ran into you on the subway, on the street, or if I saw you riding a bike. You’ve got these wonderful looks that make you look like a painted canvas, so unique and fragile at the same time.

You’ve truly turned your scars into gold. What role did Gucci play in this transition? And how does your story resonate with the values promoted by Gucci Equilibrium?

LV: In 2017, I started working at Gucci boutiques and, for me, that was a dream come true: in fact, I had dreamed of it since 1997 but back in those days it was not easy for a trans woman to get to work at a luxury store. Time has flown by since then. Soon Alessandro Michele, a longtime friend, became artistic director. He was yet another incredible encounter that left an ever-lasting mark in my life, I just love him and his partner Vanni so much, our friendship was a true gift to me. Thanks to him, I went to work without being judged for my sexuality. For me, Gucci is the dream that, once locked in a chest of drawers, actually managed to became reality.

Alessandro Michele by MAKKA

Alessandro Michele by MAKKA

CD: I can feel what Gucci means to you just by hearing how you speak about it. Let’s take a few steps back to go all the way to the ‘age of innocence,’ that playful, idyllic time of our lives where we felt as if everything was possible. What kind of child were you?

LV: As a child, I was introverted and lonely. I would spend entire days imagining, imagining, and imagining still, but I did not lack affection as my childhood was full of love.

CD: What does ‘freedom’ mean to you? What have great personalities such as Pier Paolo Pasolini and Claudia Salis meant for the future of our country and its freedom of expression?

LV: To me, freedom means being free to embrace and express yourself sincerely, without being judged. Being free to love whoever we want and create by drawing inspiration from whatever we feel inside of us. Unfortunately, I haven’t got the chance to see Claudia Salis very often. She is a free, sincere, outspoken, and very intelligent woman. A real ignorant fairy. Pasolini was a great artist, probably the greatest artist of the twentieth century, as he was able to grasp the changes that were shaking up society before than anyone else. I think I would have liked him as a friend.

Claudia Salis by MAKKA

Claudia Salis by MAKKA

CD: Art shapes and educates the souls by serving as both a means of expressing emotions and a bridge to inner peacefulness. If you were to pick an artist that truly influences you, who would that be and why?

LV: Art is the only thing that lives on and never dies. Going back to your question, I’d say Matisse, as he is my favourite artist. I love his bright colours and contrasts. Another artist I deeply admire, whom I have actually met in real life, is Botero: I am so fascinated by the harmony and softness of his work. Thinking of the contemporary art scenario, the first name that pops in my mind is Marina Abramovic, as she’s simply unbelievable.

CD: “Solo una terapia, solo una terapia, solo una terapia, solo una terapia,” (just a therapy) reads the lyrics of the Italian song “Curami” by CCCP Fedeli Alla Linea. If you were to choose a song that’s always going to be part of you, what would that be?

LV: Curami, curami, curami,” (heal me) oh gosh, I remember that song. I used to love it, you have really brought me back in time by mentioning it, it made me go back to the ‘80s-90s. I was so young back then. The most precious song to me is probably La Cura (1996) by Franco Battiato.

CD: In your posts, I often read Nam myōhō renge kyō which, in English, means “Glory to the Dharma of the Lotus Sutra.” Is meditation helping you find happiness in this world?

LV: Yes, for a period of my life, I fully devoted myself to practice ashtanga yoga and Buddhism, although that’s something I am not doing at the moment. It’s not that I stopped caring about it; on the contrary, I found an uphill road that is all mine, where I can practice that way of living in my very own way. In fact, I have begun to put all the love I have got and what I have learned through meditation into the little things as well as into the unexpectedly beautiful encounters that make up my life. I now have it in my gestures. Sport is also a form of meditation for me, as is gardening, and taking care of my black kitten.

CD: Thank you so much for this beautiful conversation Lucrezia. Keep on shining!

LV: My pleasure. Thank you!