|FOLLOW US ON:||DESIGNERS|
Rome Celebrates 45 years of the Valentino Empire
I must have been fi ve or perhaps six years old sitting in kindergarten class when we were told to draw a picture of our family or of ourselves, being as self-involved as I was at that age I chose to draw myself and proceeded to design an elaborate gown on a stick fi gure. So while everyone else was drawing little triangle skirts and balloon hands, there I was detailing a full length gown with puffy little sleeves. I remember it so vividly because the teacher came over to me looked at me then at the picture and then back at me smiling so cheerfully holding the picture up high to show the rest of the class. I'm not sure to this day whether she was concerned for me or impressed by my artwork, but you have to wonder if its moments like these that shape your future and if they have a real impact on what you are doing today.
|I have since moved on from my design days, though I have and always will be a steadfast admirer of divine dresses. I make a point of noting the designers who created those magical images, the ones that take your breath away, the ethereal garments. For years I have been sighing over these feminine master-pieces in fashion magazines, but it was uncanny how most of my favourites were designed by the same man… Valentino.
For Valentino Garavani the inspiration for beautiful gowns also came at a young age. Fashion sparked his interest while in middle school in Voghera, Lombardy Italy. It was here that he apprenticed under his uncle Rosa and a local designer Ernestina Salvadeo, he also developed an appreciation for Hollywood glamour when he was often asked by his mother to chaperone his sister on her dates.
As with most creative talents it didn't take too long before he was itching to move onwards and upwards to fulfi l his artistic dreams and at just 17 he persuaded his parents to allow him to study in Paris at the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne and the École des Beaux-Arts . When deciding where to apprentice in Paris, Valentino spoiled for choice settled at Jacques Fath a French designer. Although he is not so well known it's possible this is due to the fact he died at a the young age of 42, but he clearly knew talent when he saw it as there were a couple of other gifted designers to undertake an apprenticeship with him such as; Hubert de Givenchy and Guy Laroche.
Valentino remained in Paris (which he now calls his second home) for ten years, during which time he took further apprenticeships with Balenciaga and Jean Desses fi nally deciding after much anguish to return to Rome in 1959. It was that same year Valentino opened his very fi rst couture house on the Via Condotti with all the embellishments of a Paris Salon, though diffi cult in the beginning it didn't take long before his talents were recognized and his long list of elite clientele grew including European Royals, American Nobility and Hollywood actresses like Elizabeth Taylor and Sophia Loren.
In 1962 he presented his first couture collection at Palazzo Pitti, Florence with enormous success. Perhaps this being one of his favourite decades Valentino relished in the idea of complete glamour. In a recent interview with Miles Socha, WWD he said, "I loved the Fifties and Sixties, women went to dressmakers and the wealthy ones only wore haute couture."
The impact this era had on Valentino could have something to do with the women in his life at that time. He was in his element designing dreams for Jacqueline de Ribes, Rita Hayworth, Audrey Hepburn and of course Jacqueline Kennedy. When asked if there was one woman in his life that held a special place in his heart, his answer was Kennedy. However, there was also a man who entered his life in 1960 to which Valentino can attribute a lot of his success to, his name was Giancarlo Giametti. Meeting at the Café de Paris they were destined to be not only the best of friends, but also companions and long time business partners. Some would call this a match made in heaven for success as Valentino knew how to spend money and Giammeti knew how to make it. In a recent interview with Alessandra Ilari, WWD Valentino describes his former companion, "He looks tough, but he´s sweet and good. He´s a workaholic and, I need to stress this, he has allowed me to always work in a box lined with cotton wool," said Valentino. "Giammetti has always taken any fi nancial burden off my shoulders."
The seventies and eighties played a big role in the development of Valentino in ready to wear and accessories to the point it seemed everyone of any notoriety owned a Valentino and Giancarlo Giametti Valentino. Although he lavished in the success of the seventies, the eighties were a time of frustration for him due to the over sized shoulder pads and big hair. By the time grunge was the biggest thing to hit the fashion scene Valentino simply ignored it stating "It was an offense to women!" But Valentino never needed to be concerned for fads because the eighties were one of the most lucrative decades for his couture gowns.
To this day Valentino is world renowned especially in the social circles of expanding wealth and red carpets, and trying to sum up 45 years of exceptional creations in one event is almost an impossible task, but leave it to Valentino to make it happen.
To begin his 45th Anniversary it would be remiss of Valentino not to celebrate with his family of employees and assistants which he did on Thursday evening at Ristorante Gusto. The following day on July 6th saw the beginning of the most elaborate fashion exhibit Rome has ever been host to with 300 of Valentino´s couture dresses creatively displayed around the Altar of Peace (Ara Pacis). Even Karl Lagerfi eld who would normally brush off this type of fanfare was overwhelmed by the fresh and artistically designed exhibit displaying gold mannequins poised to pay homage adorned in Valentino´s favourite pieces. It seemed every designer from Donatella Versace to Manolo Blahnik stood in awe of the surroundings while Hollywood's elite drooled over the impressive selection of gowns wishing they could snap them all up and haul them back home.
At the press conference on Friday it was an emotional moment for Valentino who said "Coming back to Rome is a great glory for me. Also I wanted to show the beauty of the city." Something that Mayor Walter Veltroni was very happy to allow since it was reported that Valentino donated 200,000 euros for the restoration of one of Rome´s historic sites. In return Valentino received unprecedented access throughout Rome.
Saturday was all about the show held at a spectacular venue, the Complesso Monumentale of Santo Spirito in Sassia revealing Valentino´s sensational new haute couture line that consisted of a record amount of dresses. It was everything the guests wanted and much more than they expected, even Armani had tears in his eyes backstage. Later on the night became even more magical with almost 1000 guests including Elizabeth Hurley, Uma Thurman, Jessica Parker, Joan Collins and countless more rock stars and super models all grooving to the sounds of Kool and the Gang. This was a monumental success for Valentino who admitted his only disappointment was that Meryl Streep who he deeply admires was n ot able to attend the festivities.
To look back on the history of Valentino one could spend a lifetime describing his successes, his disappointments, his loves and his entourage whom he considers his family and who are all as devoted to him as he is to them. While some in the fashion world may pigeon hole Valentino as only concentrating on glamorous femininity, one would have to be blind not to see that's exactly what we love about him.
Contact Us | About Us | Advertise | Distribution | Disclaimer | Terms and Conditions
© 2011 The Beauty Magazine LLC
transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except as permitted by the Copyright Act or other law or as expressly permitted in writing by this Agreement, Service Provider or Thebeautymagazine.com.