Valentino Garavani: “If this is fashion, I don’t want to be in it anymore”

The 91-year-old designer to the stars received a career award at the Fashion Awards in London. Meeting with fashion memories, from Jackie Kennedy’s wedding dress to the red carpets of Hollywood.

After leaving fashion more than fifteen years ago, it is a great pleasure to receive this important award and to see that my legacy remains as compelling as ever.», Valentino Garavani, 91, reached us via email before being enshrined during the Fashion Awards in London on December 4th. The Italian designer dressed the most beautiful and famous women in the world: Monica Vitti, Elizabeth Taylor, Jackie Kennedy, Barbra Streisand, Julia Roberts. And more recently, Gwyneth Paltrow, who presented the precious award to Giancarlo Giammetti, Mr. Valentino’s lifelong partner, who was too tired to make the journey.

In the audience, actress Anne Hathaway and Valentino’s current artistic director Pierpaolo Piccioli applaud wildly. “ Valentino had one obsession: beauty confirms Giancarlo Giammetti.He never deviated from that. When I saw that fashion deviated from this path and gave direction to it, red carpet job, decided to move away from the photo that caused a stir. Because he could no longer practice his profession as he wanted, he had the courage to say, “If this is the fashion, I don’t want to be in it anymore.” »

He studied in the ateliers of Cristobal Balenciaga and Guy Laroche

Because when the Italian, with his perfectly blow-dried and forever bronzed skin, started out, star stylists did not yet exist and contracts for staggering sums did not exist. There are only fashion designers and their customers…

Jackie Kennedy in her Valentino wedding dress at her wedding to Aristotle Onassis in 1968. Getty Images

Originally from Voghera in Northern Italy, the young man left his family in 1949 at the age of 17 to go to Paris and learn the trade at the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture School. He worked in the ateliers of Cristobal Balenciaga and Guy Laroche before returning to Rome, where, at the age of 26, the child prodigy opened his haute couture house, thanks to financial help from his parents. The ragazzo of good society later meets Giancarlo Giammetti, a charming architecture student, at the legendary Café de Paris on Via Veneto. The two men will be partners (for a while) in love as well as in business. “ I didn’t know anything about fashion, but I had heard of an Italian who went to study couture in Paris. Giancarlo Giammetti says . His vision of women, beauty, elegance and the way he talked about these subjects immediately captivated me. »

Giancarlo Giammetti and Valentino Garavani. Valentino

Young Valentino’s talent combined with Giancarlo’s business acumen will cause havoc as the Eternal City becomes a branch of Hollywood along with Cinecitta studios. Stars flock to the living room, led by Elizabeth Taylor. “ The businessman recalls filming Cleopatra in Italy in 1962. He ordered her a dress for the premiere of the movie Spartacus, in which he starred with Kirk Douglas. She was photographed dancing with him wearing this extraordinary white sheath, completely pleated and edged with ostrich feathers. It was magnificent, its images spread all over the world. “The beginning of fame.

The couturier in his salons on Via Condotti in Rome in 1965. Valentino

Becomes the lover of the designerVogueUSA and editor-in-chief Diana Vreeland. “He dragged us everywhere, to New York events, to Broadway premieres. It did a lot for Valentino’s popularity across the Atlantic. » But it was his meeting and subsequent friendship with Jackie Kennedy in the late 1960s (“she saw one of her dresses on one of her friends “) will certainly bless her. As marriage rumors between the former First Lady and Greek shipowner Aristotle Onassis become clearer, American magazine Women’s Wear Daily predicts that the bride-to-be will wear a dress from Valentino’s 1968 Blanche collection.They guessed right!, continues Giancarlo Giammetti. However, creating this dress to create interest was never in question. Bought as a customer, as a friend. This is the difference in what is happening today. . »

In 2001, Julia Roberts won the Academy Award for Best Actress. Erin BrockovichShe’s wearing a Valentino haute couture dress from 2012. The first vintage look to walk the red carpet of the Hollywood ceremony. Courtesy of Valentino SpA

“Dress all women”

The designer of all dinners, ceremonies and galas is yours and yours with Gotha. Farah Pahlavi, the last wife of the Shah of Iran, had to escape with her cashmere and sable coat on January 16, 1979. One day, Queen of England II. He advised Elizabeth to wear black – “It will suit your skin very well “, She told him. The advice he does not follow is a matter of protocol. He is as comfortable in Buckingham palace as he is at the Hollywood Oscars. “But even though I admire these extraordinary women, my only wish was for all women who want to please themselves to dress up and have that extra self-confidence thanks to clothing. », say those who are not the new generation.

The prince of the jet set lives like his wealthy clients, surrounded by master paintings, in his magnificent villa in Rome, his private mansion in London, his penthouse in New York, the Gifferhorn chalet in Gstaad and the French palace Wideville. Castle near Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Louis XIII style building. “We were inspired by their extraordinary lifestyles to dream that ours would become famous. But nothing would happen without his work» indicates its partner. In 1974, Valentino decided to present his haute couture collections in Paris, where he gave free rein to his flamboyant fashion. “Paris has always had a special place in my heart.approves of the designer.I took my first steps here, learning my trade in haute couture ateliers, which have always represented the pinnacle of luxury for me.»

Valentino Garavani between Gisele Bündchen and Naomi Campbell at the end of the haute couture fashion show in Paris in July 1999. Valentino SpA

He discovered Valentino Rosso, the luxurious, bright carmine red he colors, while a student during a performance of Carmen at the Barcelona Opera. He lives in a hostel that evening.”A very beautiful woman with gray hair and dressed in red velvet. Among all the colors other women wore, she seemed unique to me, isolated in her splendor. I never forgot him. (…) I believe that a woman dressed in red is always gorgeous, it is the perfect image of the heroine in the middle of the crowd» (Quote from Valentino Rosso, ed. Assouline). But it borrows this particular nuance, which it took a long time to develop, from the cigarette pack: “It’s funny because everyone calls it Valentino Rosso but to him it’s Marlboro red.», trusts Giancarlo Giammetti.

Twenty-six of the designer’s most emblematic red dresses were also unveiled at the Fashion Awards last week.“This is a color that suits all women, regardless of skin tone or hair color,” explains the contact. They will always create a sensation by dressing this way.» Gwyneth Paltrow, who wore Valentino red that evening, would not say otherwise.

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