Born: Voghera, Italy, 1932

Designer Biography Valentino

Valentino Garavani’s passion for fashion ignited during his formative years as he apprenticed with his aunt Rosa and local designer Ernetina Salvadeo while still in primary school. His journey led him to Milan’s Accademia dell’Arte, where he studied French and fashion design, with the support of his parents. He later ventured to Paris, attending the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne.

In 1950, Valentino honed his skills by assisting Greek couturier Jean Desses, renowned for his expertise in draping. After five years with Desses, he joined Guy Laroche and lent his talents to Princess Irene Galitzine. In 1959, following heartfelt discussions with his parents, Valentino made a pivotal decision. In 1960, he founded his fashion empire on Rome’s Via Condotti, drawing inspiration from his experiences in Paris. He even flew in Parisian models for his inaugural show. During the same year, fate intervened as Valentino crossed paths with Giancarlo Giammetti, an architecture student residing in Northern Rome with his family. A coincidental holiday trip to Capri sealed a lasting friendship and business partnership. Shortly after, Giammetti left university to become Valentino’s indispensable business collaborator.

In 1962, Valentino unveiled his debut collection at Florence’s Pitti Palace, garnering immense success. Considered a true revelation, the young designer received a flood of orders and critical acclaim. During the 1960s, he astounded the world with his “no color” collection, featuring models adorned in shades of white, cream, chalk, beige, and sand, a departure from the psychedelic colors of the era.

Valentino’s acclaim extended as he dressed international luminaries. By the mid-1960s, Jacqueline Kennedy, Princess Margaret, Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn, Begum Aga Khan, Veruschka, and Gloria Guinness were not only clients but also personal friends. Jacqueline Kennedy’s admiration for Valentino’s designs was profound; she wore six of his haute couture dresses in black and white during her year of mourning for John F. Kennedy and chose him to design her wedding dress for her marriage to Aristotle Onassis. Thanks to his groundbreaking “no color” collection, Valentino secured the Neiman Marcus prize in 1967, a pivotal moment in his career. The same year marked the premiere of the Valentino White collection.

In the 1980s, Valentino diversified, introducing a children’s line and a youthful range named Oliver, inspired by one of his dogs. In 1991, Valentino celebrated three decades in couture with a grand three-day event attended by 1,600 guests. That year, Elizabeth Taylor personally commissioned Valentino to design a dress for her eighth wedding.

In 1998, Valentino strategically sold his company to Holding di Partecipaziono Industriali, retaining his role as designer. In 2002, HdP sold Valentino to Marzotto, marking a new chapter for the brand.

Valentino’s influence transcended fashion as he made appearances in “The Devil Wears Prada” (2006) and starred in the feature-length documentary “Valentino: The Last Emperor” (2008). France’s President Chirac honored him with the Chevalier de la Legion d’honneur in 2006. In 2007, Valentino announced his retirement in January 2008 after his final haute couture show in Paris at the Musee Rodin, receiving a standing ovation from the entire audience.

Valentino, an Italian icon renowned for glamour, trademarked his signature color as “Valentino red,” and his exquisite dresses embody romance, dreaminess, sensuality, and impeccable craftsmanship.

Upon his departure in September 2007, Valentino’s brand entered a new era with Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli as Creative Directors. They assumed responsibility for all accessories lines and later became the Creative Directors of Valentino, overseeing collections from Prêt-à-Porter to Haute Couture. Their outstanding work earned them the CFDA International Award in June 2015.

Valentino’s contributions to the fashion world garnered recognition with the Medal of the City of Paris in 2008, honoring his contributions to fashion in the city where he received his education. Further accolades included the Couture Council Award for Artistry of Fashion from the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology in 2011 and the Golden Plate Award from the American Academy of Achievement in 2017, presented by Jeremy Irons. These honors reflect the enduring impact of Valentino’s remarkable career.

Valentino Biography

Avatar photo

Written by Saxony Dudbridge

Saxony Dudbridge was one of the first contributors to the Catwalk Yourself project, Saxony studies International Fashion Marketing and she is responsible for our great History and Designers Biographies sections.

2 thoughts on “Valentino

  1. Am a ugandan aged 22. I just watched the fashion shows of valentino. This guy is incredible. The style, the art Its so feminine. he describes the inner beauty of a woman. He is an expert in fashion. So legit in his fashion. His art of 1995 when i was born rocks more than the current trends. He is a genius.

  2. Thanks Saxony. He will always be the Emperor of fashion for me. He has always made women feel feminely pretty. An icon of fashion.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *