The Story of Valentino
The Story of Valentino
Valentino was born in Voghera, Italy. He found his initial interest in the world of fashion while learning 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 Dessès where he helped Countess Jacqueline de Ribes sketch her dress ideas. He then joined Guy Laroche for two years. At an exhibition in Rome in 1991 his work 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.
Valentino left Paris in the late 1960’s 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.”
Together with 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
Valentino found his first international breakthrough with his debut which took place in 1962 in Florence, the Italian fashion capital of the time
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 Valentino Gown worn by Kennedy at her wedding to Greek tycoon Aristotle Onassis. In 1966 he moved his shows from Florence to Rome where two years later he produced an all-white collection that became famous for the “V” logo he designed.
On 4 September 2007, Valentino announced that he would retire fully in January 2008 from the world stage after his last Haute Couture show in Paris.
His last haute couture show was presented in Paris at the Musée Rodin on 23 January 2008. It was, however, somewhat marred by his criticism of fellow Italian design duo Dolce & Gabbana, 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 attend Valentino’s last haute couture show; the audience included Eva Herzigová, Naomi Campbell, Claudia Schiffer, Nadja Auermann, Karolina Kurková and Karen Mulder
In 2006 Valentino appeared in a cameo role, as himself, in the hit movie The Devil Wears Prada.
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