Valentino Garavani: A Look Back at a Fashion Legend
Valentino Garavani is a name that has become synonymous with luxury, sophistication, and timeless elegance. The Italian designer has built an impressive career that spans over five decades, creating some of the most iconic and memorable designs in the fashion industry.
In this article, we will take a closer look at Valentino’s background, his early career, and his journey to becoming one of the most successful and influential designers in the world.
Background and early career
Valentino Garavani was born in Voghera, Italy, in 1932. From a young age, he had a passion for fashion and was fascinated by the glamorous world of haute couture.
Garavani’s career began in 1949 when he was 17 years old. He moved to Paris to study at École des Beaux-Arts and at the Chamber Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne. After graduation, Valentino apprenticed for Jean Dessès, where he gained valuable experience and exposure to the industry.
Partnership with Valentino Giammetti
In 1959, Valentino decided to open his own fashion house in Rome, with the help of his partner, Giancarlo Giammetti. While their romantic relationship was short-lived, they spent the rest of their careers together. Giammetti was the manager of commercial development for the House of Valentino and has said that in the last 50 years of knowing Garavani, the two have not spent more than eight weeks apart.
Their first collection was a huge success, and Valentino quickly gained a reputation for his exquisite designs, attention to detail, and impeccable craftsmanship. He became a favorite of the international jet set, dressing celebrities such as Elizabeth Taylor, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and Princess Margaret.
In 1962 in Florence, Garavani made his worldwide debut with a couture collection at the Pitti Palace, which attracted the attention of celebrities and socialites alike.
Valentino was not afraid to design clothes that weren’t mainstream, which allowed him to break barriers in the industry. He became known for designing with intricate details and rich colors, evening coining a signature color—”Valentino Red,” which is recognized by Pantone.
Valentino’s career continued to flourish throughout the 1960s and 1970s, as he established himself as one of the most prominent designers of his time. He was known for his use of luxurious fabrics, intricate embroideries, and bold, vibrant colors. He also introduced several groundbreaking designs, such as the A-line dress and the “V” logo, which became synonymous with his brand.
In 1969 the designer opened his first ready-to-wear shops in Milan and Rome and spent the ‘70s working in New York to launch his first children’s wear and young adults line. He named his young adults line after his beloved pug, Olivier.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Valentino expanded his empire, opening boutiques around the world and launching a range of accessories and fragrances. He also continued to push the boundaries of fashion, experimenting with new techniques and materials while staying true to his signature style.
Awards and recognition
In 1967, Garavani received the Neiman Marcus Fashion Award for Distinguished Service in the Field of Fashion. Recipients of this award include non-American-based designers, journalists, celebrities, and style icons who have achieved distinguished service in the fashion industry. Winning a Neiman Marcus Fashion Award marked the moment a designer became internationally recognized.
On July 6, 2006, the President of France honored Valentino with the Légion d’Honneur medal, the highest decoration given out in the country. In 2008, he released a feature-length film Valentino: The Last Emperor that gave a behind-the-scenes look at his life and relationships.
Giammetti and Garavani have always had a special relationship and in the film, Giammetti says if anything happened to Valentino, it happened to him as well. When Valentino won the Legion d’Honneur, people said Giammetti should have won too, but to Giammetti, he had.
Acquisition of the Valentino brand
In 2012, the Valentino brand was acquired by the Qatari royal family’s investment company, Mayhoola for Investments. The deal was reportedly worth €700 million, making it one of the largest fashion acquisitions in history.
Mayhoola for Investments had been looking to expand its fashion portfolio, which already included stakes in other luxury brands such as Anya Hindmarch and Pal Zileri. The acquisition of Valentino was seen as a significant coup, given the brand’s reputation and global reach.
Under the new ownership, Valentino has continued to thrive, with a renewed focus on expanding its presence in key markets such as Asia and the Middle East. The brand has also continued to push the boundaries of fashion, with a series of high-profile collaborations with artists and designers such as Zandra Rhodes, Jamie Reid, and Craig Green.
Despite the change in ownership, Valentino’s commitment to exquisite craftsmanship and timeless elegance has remained unchanged. The brand’s iconic designs continue to captivate and inspire, with each collection building on the legacy of the man who started it all, Valentino Garavani.
While Garavani does not professionally design anymore, he sketches and draws in his free time. Although he retired from his eponymous label in 2008, Valentino Garavani is still an active force in the fashion industry. His legacy lives on through Valention’s current creative director, Pierpaolo Piccioli, who upholds the brand’s reputation for exquisite craftsmanship and timeless elegance.
Valentino’s influence on the fashion industry cannot be overstated. His designs have been worn by some of the most influential and stylish women in the world, and his legacy continues to inspire new generations of designers. His iconic creations, such as the Valentino red dress and the Valentino Garavani Rockstud, have become synonymous with luxury and sophistication.