Valentino Garavani

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Valentino Liz Hurley Cannes.jpg
Valentino Garavani with Liz Hurley at the Cannes Film Festival
BornValentino Clemente Ludovico Garavani
(1932-05-11) 11 May 1932 (age 81)
Voghera, Lombardy, Italy
EducationÉcole des Beaux-Arts
OccupationFashion designer
Partner(s)Marilù Tolo
Giancarlo Giammetti
ParentsTeresa de Biaggi
Mauro Garavani
AwardsGrande ufficiale dell' Ordine al merito della Repubblica Italiana, Cavaliere del Lavoro, The Neiman Marcus Award
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Valentino Liz Hurley Cannes.jpg
Valentino Garavani with Liz Hurley at the Cannes Film Festival
BornValentino Clemente Ludovico Garavani
(1932-05-11) 11 May 1932 (age 81)
Voghera, Lombardy, Italy
EducationÉcole des Beaux-Arts
OccupationFashion designer
Partner(s)Marilù Tolo
Giancarlo Giammetti
ParentsTeresa de Biaggi
Mauro Garavani
AwardsGrande ufficiale dell' Ordine al merito della Repubblica Italiana, Cavaliere del Lavoro, The Neiman Marcus Award

Valentino Clemente Ludovico Garavani (Voghera, Italy, May 11 1932), best known as Valentino, is an Italian fashion designer and founder of the Valentino SpA brand and company. His main lines include Valentino, Valentino Garavani, Valentino Roma and R.E.D. Valentino.


The Paris years (1949–1959)[edit]

Valentino became interested in fashion while in primary school in his native Voghera, Lombardy, northern Italy, when he apprenticed under his aunt Rosa and local designer Ernestina Salvadeo, an aunt of noted artist Aldo Giorgini. Valentino then moved to Paris to pursue this interest with the help of his mother Teresa de Biaggi and his father Mauro Garavani. There he studied at the École des Beaux-Arts and at the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne. His first choice for an apprenticeship, in Paris, was Jacques Fath, then Balenciaga. He found an apprenticeship with Jean Desses where he helped style icon Countess Jacqueline de Ribes sketch her dress ideas. He then joined Guy Laroche for 2 years. At Jean Desses, Valentino sketched furiously, between helping with window dressing and greeting clients for the daily 2:30 pm private showings. Most of his early sketches were lost. However, at a Rome exhibition in 1991 a smattering of them went on display and then-current clients such as Marie-Hélène de Rothschild and Elizabeth Taylor marveled that the DNA of Valentino's style was already apparent in the layers of white pleats and animal prints.

A wedding dress by Valentino

After five years, Valentino left Jean Desses over an incident about prolonging a vacation in Saint-Tropez that still makes him uncomfortable today. Rescued by his friend Guy Laroche, he joined his "tiny, tiny" fashion house. After discussions with his parents, he decided to return to Italy and set up in Rome in 1959.


Palazzo Gabrielli-Mignanelli, Valentino's Roman residence

In 1959 Valentino left Paris and opened a fashion house in Rome on the posh Via Condotti with the backing of his father and an associate of his. More than an atelier, the premises resembled a real "maison de couture," it being very much along the lines of what Valentino had seen in Paris: everything was very grand and models flew in from Paris for his first show. Valentino became known for his red dresses, in the bright shade that became known in the fashion industry as "Valentino red."

On July 31 1960, Valentino met Giancarlo Giammetti at the Café de Paris on the Via Veneto in Rome. One of three children, Giammetti was in his second year of architecture school, living at home with his parents in the haut bourgeois Parioli section of Northern Rome. That day Giammetti gave Valentino a lift home in his Fiat and a friendship, as well as a long-lasting partnership, started. The day after, Giammetti was to leave for Capri for vacation and, by coincidence, Valentino was also going there, so they met again on the island 10 days later. Giammetti would shortly thereafter abandon the University to become Valentino's business partner. When Giammetti arrived, the business situation of Valentino's atelier was in fact not brilliant: in one year he had spent so much money that his father's associate pulled out of the business, and had to fight against bankruptcy. [1]

Breakthrough in Florence (1962–1967)[edit]

Valentino's international debut took place in 1962 in Florence, the Italian fashion capital of the time. His first show at the Pitti Palace was welcomed as a true revelation and the young couturier was deluged by orders from foreign buyers and enthusiastic comments on the press.

After the breakthrough show in Florence, Valentino began dressing the ladies of the international best-dressed crowd, such as his acquaintance from the Paris years Countess Jacqueline de Ribes and New York socialites Babe Paley and Jayne Wrightsman.

By the mid-1960s he was already considered the undisputed maestro of Italian Couture, receiving in 1967 the Neiman Marcus Fashion Award, the equivalent of an Oscar in the field of fashion. The Begum Aga Khan, Farah Diba, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Lee Radziwill, Queen Paola of Belgium, Babe Paley, Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn, Gloria Guinness, Marella Agnelli, Jayne Wrightsman, Marisa Berenson, Veruschka and Princess Margaret were already customers as well as personal friends.

At some point in 1964, Jacqueline Kennedy had seen Gloria Schiff, the twin sister of the Rome-based fashion editor of American Vogue and Valentino's friend Consuelo Crespi, wearing a two-piece ensemble in black organza at a gathering. It made such an impression that Kennedy contacted Ms. Schiff to learn the name of the ensemble's designer, which was Valentino. In September 1964, Valentino was to be in the United States to present a collection of his work at a charity ball at New York's Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. Mrs. Kennedy wanted to view the collection but could not attend the event, so Valentino decided to send a model, sales representative and a selection of key pieces from his collection to Mrs. Kennedy's apartment on Fifth Avenue. Mrs. Kennedy ordered six of his haute couture dresses, all in black and white, and wore them during her year of mourning following President John F. Kennedy's assassination. From then on, she was a devoted client and would become a friend. Valentino would later design the white dress worn by Kennedy at her wedding to Greek tycoon Aristotle Onassis.

In 1966, confident of his client base, he moved his shows from Florence to Rome where two years later he achieved one of his greatest triumphs, an all-white collection that became famous for the "V" logo he designed.


A dress worn by Audrey Hepburn at The Proust Bal at Château de Ferrières in 1971.

Throughout the 1970s Valentino spent considerable time in New York City, where his presence was embraced by society personalities such as Vogue's editor-in-chief Diana Vreeland and the art icon Andy Warhol.

Valentino Edition Lincoln Continental[edit]

From 1983 through 1985, the Ford Motor Company offered a Valentino Edition of its Continental sedan. It featured various color changes during this time and offered features that were optional on the standard model.

The Accademia Valentino[edit]

The year 1990 marked the opening of the Accademia Valentino, designed by architect Tommaso Ziffer, a cultural space located near Valentino's atelier in Rome, for the presentation of art exhibitions. The next year, encouraged by their friend Elizabeth Taylor, Valentino Garavani and Giancarlo Giammetti created L.I.F.E., an association for the support of AIDS-related patients, which benefits from the activities of the Accademia Valentino. [2]

From HdP group to Marzotto group[edit]

In 1998 Valentino and his partner Giancarlo Giammetti sold the company for approximately US$300 million to HdP, an Italian conglomerate controlled, in part, by the late Gianni Agnelli, the head of Fiat. In 2002, Valentino S.p.A., with revenues of more than $180 million, was sold by HdP to Marzotto Apparel, a Milan-based textile giant, for $210 million.


Valentino's castle in Crespières, near Paris

On September 4 2007, Valentino announced that he would retire fully in January 2008[3] from the world stage after his last haute couture show in Paris. He delivered his last women's ready-to-wear show in Paris on 4 October.

His last haute couture show was presented in Paris at the Musée Rodin on January 23, 2008. It was, however, somewhat marred by his criticism of fellow Italian design duo Dolce & Gabbana,[4] and the death of Australian actor Heath Ledger although few allowed these things to detract from his final show, which received a standing ovation from the entire audience that included hundreds of notable names from all areas of show business. Many models returned to show for Valentino's last haute couture show, including Eva Herzigova, Naomi Campbell, Claudia Schiffer, Nadja Auermann, Karolina Kurkova and Karen Mulder.[5]

The Valentino Garavani Virtual Museum

The Valentino Garavani Virtual Museum is a downloadable desktop application that digitally displays the 50 year archive of Italian fashion designer Valentino Garavani. This application uses real time 3D technology is to create an immersive environment within the app. It connects to online media database that displays over 5,000 images including sketches, illustrations, advertising campaigns, editorials, red carpet moments and 180 fashion show videos. Content is arranged in a museum layout where users explore the different galleries and wings covering what would be over 10,000 square meters in an actual museum.

The museum became available for download on December 5, 2011 at The Valentino Garavani Virtual Museum was created by Valentino's long-time partner Giancarlo Giammetti. It was designed and produced by Novacom Associés-Paris, in collaboration with Kinmonth-Monfreda Design Project – London. <[6]

Valentino: Master of Couture Exhibition, 29 November 2012 - 3 March 2013

This major new exhibition opening at Somerset House in London celebrating the life and work of Valentino will showcase over 130 exquisite haute couture designs worn by icons such as Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Grace Kelly, Sophia Loren and Gwyneth Paltrow in an exciting specially created installation.

Divided into three sections; visitors will start with a private view of Valentino's world through photographs from his personal archive, offering an intimate portrait of the life of the master. The exhibition then unfolds into a couture fashion show where roles are reversed with visitors walking the catwalk to view a staggering one hundred and thirty Valentino haute couture designs.

The final section will unpick the painstaking processes of crafting couture exemplified by the stunning wedding dress of Princess Marie Chantal of Greece, demonstrating the beauty of the work of les petit mains who sew each stitch by hand. In addition a specially commissioned group of films will allow behind-the scenes access to the Valentino atelier, where the craft of couture is demonstrated in a series of fascinating samples. Finally, discover more about the man, the icon, by exploring the Valentino Garavani Virtual Museum.

There will be a series of talks, screenings and events to accompany the exhibition.


Valentino's yacht moored in Porto Santo Stefano, Monte Argentario (Italy)

In 2006 Valentino appeared in a cameo role, as himself, in the hit movie The Devil Wears Prada. One of the DVD's featurettes is called "Getting Valentino" and shows an interview of the designer backstage with the movie's actresses, Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway, his partner Giancarlo Giammetti, and his PRs Carlos de Souza and Charlene Shorto de Ganay. [7]

Valentino: The Last Emperor a feature-length documentary film on the designer, premiered at the 2008 Venice International Film Festival. Produced and directed by Matt Tyrnauer, special correspondent for Vanity Fair magazine, the film follows Valentino and his inner circle throughout various events, including last year's anniversary show celebrating his 45-year career. During the movie's production from June 2005 to July 2007, the filmmakers shot more than 250 hours of footage with exclusive, unprecedented access to Valentino and his entourage. "We were let in to the inner circle, but we had to stick it out for a long time, practically move in, to capture the truly great moments", says Tyrnauer. "Valentino is surrounded by a tight-knit family of friends and employees, but, eventually, their guard came down and they forgot there was a camera crew in the room."

The film had its North American premiere at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival. It was released theatrically in the United States on 18 March in New York City and selected cities. Indiewire called it the highest-grossing documentary debut of 2009.


On July 6, 2006, France's President Chirac awarded Valentino the Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur. "I am very honored," said Valentino, who has received awards from many countries including Italy and the United States.[8]

During the festivities for the 45th year of Valentino's career, the Mayor of Rome, Walter Veltroni, announced that the site of the Valentino Museum would be a building in via San Teodoro in Rome, between the Palatine Hill and the Bocca della Verità (mouth of truth).

January 24, 2008, Valentino was presented with the Medal of the City of Paris for his services to fashion in the city where he was educated.

On September 7, 2011, Valentino was presented with the sixth annual Couture Council Award for Artistry of Fashion from the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology at a benefit luncheon held at the David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center in New York City.[9]

Celebration of 45 years of Valentino[edit]

A collection of black dresses by Valentino at the Museo Ara Pacis in Rome

In celebration of the 45th anniversary of Valentino's career, the fashion extravaganza took place in Rome between July 6 and 8 in 2007. Festivities started on Thursday, July 5, with a dinner for Valentino's assistants and employees at Ristorante Gusto, and ended on Sunday, July 8, with the launch of a perfume and a brunch at the French Academy of Villa Medici.

The five exclusive golden invitation cards were sent from the Valentino headquarters for the weekend's main events:

The fashion setting was two halls called Sala Incisa and Sala Baglivi of the restructured 16th-century Santo Spirito in Sassia complex, located next to Castel Sant'Angelo and the Vatican. Valentino showed about 61 couture dresses, a record number considering that an HC show never shows more than 40 gowns. The collection referenced many of the leitmotifs revealed in the retrospective at Ara Pacis and was a tour de force of the flawless and unmatchable techniques that Valentino's brilliant workrooms. The music segued from Mahler's Fifth to a hauntingly beautiful rendition of Puccini's "O mio babbino caro" as Valentino took his bow.

Fellow designers who attended—including Karl Lagerfeld, Giorgio Armani, Donatella Versace, Tom Ford, Diane von Fürstenberg, Carolina Herrera, Zac Posen, Manolo Blahnik, and Philip Treacy, among others, led the standing ovation, which drew tears from the habitually unflappable designer, who embraced Giancarlo Giammetti on the runway.


Personal life[edit]

Valentino and Giancarlo Giammetti met in 1960 and have been together, both romantically and in business, for more than 50 years. In the film Valentino: The Last Emperor, they discuss how they met.

Valentino's mother, Teresa, moved from Voghera to Rome to help with the business. Eventually he told both his parents that he was engaged to Italian actress Marilù Tolo, the only woman he had ever truly loved and with whom he had wished to have children.[15]

Friends and entourage[edit]

Friends have become family for Valentino; his business associate life partner, Giancarlo Giammetti, Brazilian brothers Sean and Anthony Souza, as well as their parents, Carlos Souza and socialite Charlene Shorto de Ganay, Souza's ex-wife, who are both Valentino's public relations representatives. Carlos Souza met Valentino and Giammetti in 1973 in Rio de Janeiro when he was 18 years old. Valentino and Giammetti are also the godfathers of Anthony and Sean. Giammetti confided to Vanity Fair that "this family has stayed together because of me, because when Valentino gets mad he cuts – that is that. I remember when Carlos left and moved to Brazil and married Charlene. Valentino refused to speak to him, but I always talked to Carlos. Then one day Carlos called and said he had a baby boy, Sean. I handed the phone to Valentino, and he started to cry and cry."[citation needed]

Throughout his career, Valentino has been deeply inspired by many glamorous women. Some of them have become very close friends, making up what is referred to as the Valentino's "family." This includes Spanish socialites Nati Abascal, a former model who was married to the Duke of Feria, and Rosario Nadal, the ex-wife of Kyrill, Prince of Preslav. Valentino met Nati Abascal in 1968 at a party when she was a 19-year-old model and brought her to Capri. Rosario of Bulgaria met Valentino in her native Majorca in the 1990s via Carlos Souza at a club. Another close friend of Valentino is his former PR French-Brazilian Georgina Brandolini, who worked for Valentino for 18 years before leaving for Balmain and ultimately starting her own fashion career.

The Valentino entourage often travels together everywhere around the world for vacation, moving between Valentino's and Giammetti's various homes around the world and in summertime to the yacht, where for a period in the 1990s, Giammetti made everyone except Valentino do needlepoint.

Valentino's PR Daniela Giardina, architect Tommaso Ziffer, a close friend of Giancarlo Giammetti, and actress Gwyneth Paltrow are also part of the group. Since Marzotto group's acquisition of Valentino from HdP group, Matteo Marzotto and his socialite mother Marta Marzotto often join the party.


Valentino adores dogs to the point that he once named a second line of clothing after his late pug Oliver. Today Valentino owns six pugs: the mother, Molly; her sons, Milton and Monty; and her daughters, Margot, Maude and Maggie. When traveling on his 14-seat Challenger jet, three cars are needed to move Valentino and his entourage to the airport: one to move Valentino and Giammetti, another for the luggage and the staff, and a third to transport five of six Valentino's pugs as one of them, Maude, always travels with Valentino.[16]


Both Valentino and Giancarlo Giammetti are renowned for their extensive collection of art spread throughout their homes around the world including works by Picasso, Cy Twombly, Balthus, and Damien Hirst. In the 1980s they became close friends (and clients) of Thomas Ammann, with whom they shared their passion for Warhol and Twombly especially, " was Thomas Ammann who taught us to love art...".

Valentino and Giammetti's lifestyle has been considered flamboyant. John Fairchild, editor-at-large at Women's Wear Daily and W, told Vanity Fair,

Valentino and Giancarlo are the kings of high living. Every other designer looks and says, ‘How do they live the way they do?’ I don’t think they made the money that Valentino and Giancarlo did, because Giancarlo knows how to make money. If they did, they didn’t spend the money like Valentino. No other designer ever did. When the terrorism first started in Rome – the period when the Red Brigades were kidnapping people – Valentino was riding around in a bulletproof Mercedes. And do you know what color the Mercedes was? Red. My God, I thought, you must want to get blown up.[16]

Valentino owns multiple villas and apartments around the world, all filled with art: Palazzo Gabrielli-Mignanelli near the Spanish steps in Rome and a villa on the Via Appia Antica, a major historical landmark of Rome, and Chalet Gifferhorn in Gstaad, Switzerland. In France, is the Chateau de Wideville, a castle on 120 acres (0.49 km2) in Davron, about 30 minutes outside Paris, which Valentino bought in 1998 and had meticulously restored by the late Henri Samuel, the dean of French interior design. The castle had been previously decorated by the late Renzo Mongiardino, the greatest of the Italian decorators, who also worked on Valentino's Roman villa and Giammetti's Tuscan house. Built circa 1600, the castle was once the home of Claude de Bullion, the finance minister for Louis XIII, who slept at Wideville, according to a plaque in the castle, on January 22, 1634. During the reign of Louis XIV, Madame de la Valliere, one of his mistresses, lived at Wideville. Her bedroom, a mirrored-walled chapel with a 30-foot (9.1 m)-high ceiling, was converted into a bathroom. Valentino also has an apartment near the Frick Museum overlooking Central Park in New York City, as well as one of the largest private houses in London's Holland Park, a 19th-century mansion whose centerpiece is the grand salon, featuring five late Picassos. The breakfast room is lined with 200 Meissen porcelain plates, and the small salon has two Basquiat paintings and a painting by Damien Hirst. His villa on the cliffs of Capri has recently been sold.

Valentino also spends much time on T. M. Blue One, his 152-foot-long (46 m) yacht boasting a full-time staff of eleven, and a selection of art ranging from Picassos to Andy Warhols. He frequently visits Giancarlo Giammetti's residences: his four penthouses in Via Condotti in Rome, on the Quai D'Orsay in Paris, in One Beacon Court in New York, in Cadogan Square in London or the country estate, la Vagnola, in Cetona, Tuscany.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Valentino". Vogue. 8 March 2012. Retrieved 8 March 2012. 
  2. ^ "Chronice". New York Times. 28 May 1990. Retrieved 8 March 2012. 
  3. ^ "Fashion legend Valentino retires". BBC News. 4 September 2007. Retrieved 27 May 2010. 
  4. ^ "Enjoy England – My Favourite Trips". The Daily Telegraph (London). Retrieved 27 May 2010. [dead link]
  5. ^ "Paris Couture – Day Three". Vogue. 23 January 2008. Retrieved 22 May 2011. 
  6. ^ "Valentino Virtual Fashion Museum Opens Its Doors". New York Times. 5 December 2011. Retrieved 2 March 2012. 
  7. ^ "The Devil Wears Prada". IMDb. 30 June 2006. Retrieved 8 March 2012. 
  8. ^ Herald Tribune
  9. ^ "2011 Couture Council Artistry of Fashion Award: Valentino". Museum at FIT. Retrieved 8 September 2011. 
  10. ^ ""Roma si tinge di rosso Valentino" – "Repubblica", 6 July 2007". 19 March 2009. Retrieved 22 May 2011. 
  11. ^ Sarah Mower (3 October 2007). "Valentino Spring 2008 Ready-to-Wear Collection on Runway Review". Retrieved 22 May 2011. 
  12. ^ "Valentino, Retrospective". Retrieved 22 May 2011. 
  13. ^ "Valentino Virtual Fashion Museum Opens Its Doors". New York Times. 5 December 2011. Retrieved 2 March 2012. 
  14. ^ "Valentino: Master of Couture". Retrieved 4 September 2012. 
  15. ^ "Valentino, 45 anni da re della moda "Ho amato l'attrice Marilù Tolo" – Persone –". Repubblica. 29 June 2007. Retrieved 22 May 2011. 
  16. ^ a b Vanity Fair, August 2004.

External links[edit]