- The Origin
- The First Fashion Show
- Valentino and the Hollywood Stars
- HDP Buys the Company
- 40 Years of Career
- Valentino Joins the Marzotto Group
- The New Lines
- Farewell to the Catwalks
- Creative Directors: Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli
- The Recent Years
He was born Graduation Valentino Clemente Ludovico Garavani, also known as, Valentino Garavani (1933). Italian fashion designer. Ever since he was small, he clearly showed his idea of style and elegance. It was an aspect that clearly emerged in the first outfit that he created for his aunt Rosa, the owner of a passementerie shop in Voghera, in the Via Turin, where he loved to spend his afternoons playing with bolts of cloth.
Even then he especially loved red: a color that, in later years, would become his good-luck charm and the strong suit of his palette. He understood this when, during his apprenticeship with Jean Dessès in Paris, he went to the Opera in Barcelona and was overwhelmed by the entirely red stage costumes:
“It was at that moment that I understood that, after white and black, there is no color more beautiful.”
At age 17 Valentino leaves Voghera to learn fashion in Paris. His speed at sketching models immediately won him a job with Dessès, where he worked until 1955, and then moved to a position with Guy Laroche, which lasted until 1957. That was the year in which he returned to Italy, and opened, with his father’s help, an atelier in Rome in the Via Condotti. From a young apprentice designing the shadows for major atelier, he was now the owner of his own business. His debut took place in Rome, and was understated. It was, in fact, a fiasco, and he failed to sell even a single item.
Young Designer at his Studio
In those years, he became acquainted with Giancarlo Giammetti, a student of architecture who would become his manager and his administrator, as well as his communications director. In 1962 in Florence, Valentino was the last to present his collection in Palazzo Pitti. The hall overwhelmed with a deafening roar of applause.
“My mother said to me: ‘You hear them? They want you, because you’ve done it, you’ve won.’ Less than an hour later, I had sold my entire collection and I was swamped with orders.”
Since then, his successes has followed one upon the heels of the other, punctually, season after season. “The Americans love this Italian who has become the king of fashion in just a short while,” wrote Woman’s Wear Daily in 1968, after a dazzling runway presentation all in white, studded with capes and lightly draped outfits.
“Creativity,” said Valentino, “is difficult to explain, it is like an internal force, an enthusiasm that never wanes and which gives me the strength to continue working in new ways. As I look at things and people in the street, my imagination continues to march and my ideas take shape through my pencil.”
Valentino and the Hollywood Stars
His volcanic flow of new ideas for women and refined elegance left an indelible mark in the jet set. Farah Diba fled from her crumbling empire wearing a Valentino suit. Liz Taylor met Richard Burton while wearing Valentino. Jackie Kennedy married Onassis in a Valentino outfit of ivory lace that, for years, women copied around the world. The list of celebrities that have worn Valentino is endless: Sophia Loren and Nancy Reagan to Brooke Shields and Sharon Stone. There are few who have been able to resist the allure of his outfits, a synthesis of luxury and grace modulated with modernity.
He reinvented bows, transforming them into a symbol of femininity: one of his first outfits embellished with this detail won a legendary burst of applause that lasted for ten full minutes. He is an absolute master of his profession, technique, and the way he transformed this artisanal ability into a compass by which he charts the ongoing continuity of his line.
In 1978, through a manufacturing agreement with the Gruppo Finanziario Tessile, he launched his first line. Over time, the number of lines has grown to eight, including menswear and womenswear of ready-to-wear fashion. Since 1968, he has presented his collections of prêt-à-porter on the runways of Paris, as he has also done since 1989 with his haute couture creations. His success has never known decline, it seems immune to flops and comebacks. But Valentino is especially proud of having created the Life Foundation to raise funds to help children afflicted with AIDS.
A reality that came into existence in 1990, the same year in which the fashion designer celebrated in Rome and Milan his thirtieth year in business, with an exhibition at the Accademia Valentino, a space designed and equipped for exhibitions and cultural events.
HDP Buys the Company
In January 1998, the “Rolls Royce of fashion designers,” as the Americans call him, sold his griffe for 500 billion liras, the annual turnover of the maison was 1.2 trillion liras, amidst much weeping, and maintaining a place for himself as the creative director, to HDP, the holding company run by Maurizio Romiti.
He said: “I have seen too many of my colleagues being ushered out of their ateliers through the tradesman’s entrance, in order to make way for new creatives who have then undermined the originale style of the maison…”
Valentino is a private man, but he also knows how to engage in polemics with stylish irony. When the American journalist, Suzy Menkes, the terror of fashion designers, stated in 1990, the end of the phenomenon of top models had arrived, and criticized those who continued to use them. Valentino replied by purchasing a full-page advertisement in the International Herald Tribune: “Suzy, you’ve got it all wrong. Love from Valentino and the top models” was the slogan beneath a photograph of Claudia Schiffer, Nadya Auermann, and Elle McPherson.
He lives and works in Rome, Capri, London, New York, and Paris. He purchased an eighteenth-century castle just an hour away from the French capital, which he considers as his refuge. He refuses to allow it to be photographed. The only pictures that have been taken show Valentino as he strolls in the immense park with his pet pugs. There is a vast forest, which he minimizes, describing it as: “Big enough to go horseback riding in.”
In 2001, Valentino, much loved by the stars of Hollywood, chose to celebrate his 40 years of business in Los Angeles. The party, a benefit for Child Priority, was organized with Steven Spielberg, Kate Capshaw, Tom Hanks, and Rita Wilson. During the evening, there was a book presentation of Il libro rosso di Valentino, edited by Franca Sozzani, contains pictures of 40 women including Ashley Judd, Ines Sastre, Isabella Rossellini, Kate Moss, and Mila Jovovich dressed in “Valentino red” and depicted by the most important photographers of the time.
That same year, in March, Julia Roberts received her Oscar wearing “vintage” Valentino. Gleaming in black silk in the mass media helped to launch what would become one of the most significant trends of fashion in recent years: vintage.
In February 2002 he represented Italy, with its historic and rare capacity to blend creativity and craftsmanship with taste and superior elegance, during the culiminating ceremonies of the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, broadcasted around the world.
In March of 2002, after months of negotiations and rumors, HDP sold the Roman griffe to the Mariotto Group for €240 million Euros, including the financial debts accumulated over recent years, which on 31 December 2001 amounted to €204.4 million. Valentino Intimate and Valentino Sand were the first creations of the new management. With a three-year licensing agreement, the Como-based company, Albisetti, took over production and distribution rights worldwide for the intimatewear and men’s and women’s swimwear collections. The new lines debuted at Lingerie Americas, the first event in the sector held in the United States, which from 4 to 6 August 2002 featured 22 Italian underwear labels at the Pavillion Altman Building in New York. There were more than 125 manufacturers invited from around the world.
In the first two months of 2003, Marzotto had a 1.8% increase in turnover, to be attributed for the most part to the consolidation of Valentino.
In May, Valentino, with a series of his “cult” outfits, took part in the exhibition, My Favorite Dress, at the Fashion Textile Museum, a London fashion museum built at the behest of the fashion designer Zandra Rhodes in the neighborhood of Bermondsey, south of the Thames.
Later, he launched the Valentino Timeless watches and the youth line Valentino R.E.D. (Roman Eccentric Dressing), which reinterpreted his unmistakable timeless modules such as jeans, but also his more classic items such as the short “Jackie” overcoats or the “V Logo” of 1968, by now part of fashion history.
The success of the watch line prompts the brand to propose, in 2004, also a jewelery line. 2005 opens with the debut of the fragrance V Valentino, created in collaboration with Procter & Gamble. Over the year, bid diversification expands to 360 °. There is, for example, the licensing agreement with Spanish Pronovias for the production and marketing of a line of bridal dresses, and the alliance with Arnolfo di Cambio for the creation of a home line dedicated to the Art de La Table. Meanwhile significant corporate reorganizations involve Valentino S.p.A. And its subsidiaries: these maneuvers will give birth to the Valentino Fashion Group (VFG), which sees the light at the end of the year.
At the beginning of 2006 Matteo Marzotto became president of Valentino S.p.A., while the position of CEO was Stefano Sassi. After the important reorganization of the group, 2007 is devoted to grand festivals for the nine years of master’s activity. At Ara Pacis, a retrospective entitled Valentino in Rome was inaugurated: 45 years of style, in conjunction with the High Fashion show in July. Obviously, in September, the protagonist of the fashion designer’s passageways is announced: in October his last collection, standing ovation and general emotion, is taking its place in Paris.
The designated heir is Alessandra Facchinetti, reduced by a collaboration with Gucci and Moncler Gamme Rouge, while the men’s collection, entrusted to Ferruccio Pozzoni, takes place in the Ville lumière.
On January 23, 2008 Valentino waved his last goodbye at the Spring 2008 Haute Couture Fashion Show at the Musée Rodin. The room was lined with his contributions to the fashion world and models paraded down the runway in his iconic element, the red gown. He took the final walk down the runway while receiving a standing ovation for his contributions over the past 45 years.
At the end of 2008, however, the end of the collaboration between Alessandra Facchinetti and the maison was announced.
Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli, creators of the line of accessories for the brand, take on the creative direction of the clothing line. In 2009 the collaboration with Ferruccio Pozzoni also ends. In 2011, Valentino posted a net profit of €2.6 million in the first six months of the year, compared with the red €7.4 million in the same period in 2010.
On September 7, 2011 Anna Wintour handed Valentino the Couture Council Award for Art in Fashion 2011 in New York. Valentino does not renew the liaison with Safilo and signs an international license agreement with Marchon, effective from January 1, 2012, for the production and distribution of sunglasses and glasses. In January 2012 Valentino’s guesthouse is the special guest of Pitti Uomo 81 in Fortezza da Basso in Florence. Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli present the A / I 2012, which is 13 men’s collection, presented at a fashion show for the first time.
Valentino celebrated 50 years of career and inaugurates a new store concept and a vintage capsule collection. The Milan Montenapoleone shop was designed by architect David Chipperfield, along with Chiuri, and Piccioli. The maison, since Chiuri and Piccioli have been appointed, has seen a period of strong evolution.
In 2012, Valentino Fashion Group’s entire shareholding was acquired by Mayhoola for Investments S.P.C., a subsidiary of Qatar’s primary investor for €600 million. At the end of the year, the brand launched the “Valentino Garavani Virtual Museum” opening a window on the designer’s world that left the creative direction in 2008.
The luxury group closed 2013 with revenues up 25% to around €490 million. Also, 2015 closes revenues up 48% for €986.9 million and an ebitda almost doubled to €180.2 million. Valentino officially announced on July 7, 2016 the appointment of Pierpaolo Piccioli as the sole creative director of the Roman house following Maria Grazia Chiuri’s decision to leave the company after 17 years, of which 8, were as co-creative director with Piccioli.
In 2016, the second-line license goes to OTB’s Staff International. The license will continue until at least Spring / Summer 2018. Luxottica Group and Valentino have signed a license agreement for the spectacle collections. The new agreement, lasting ten years, is operational since January 2017.