the story of the last fashion emperor, from Voghera to royalty

Today, May 11, 2022, designer Valentino Garavani celebrates his 90th birthday: from a tailor shop to Voghera in Paris, his creations have changed the history of Made in Italy.

After me the deluge“: like that Valentino Garavani summarizes its importance in the fashion world to journalists. Who could ever replace the designer who for half a century dictated the rules of international style, dressing Hollywood divas, princesses and first ladies? Today, May 11, Valentino Garavani celebrates its 90th birthday and the fashion world celebrates its last emperor, who since Voghera has conquered the Olympus of international fashion.

Valentino Garavani, from Voghera to the Olympus of fashion

Valentino Garavani is born in Voghera, in the province of Pavia, on May 11, 1932: since he was a child, he has dreamed of the myth of cinema, glamor and couture. He was inspired by the milliner Ernestina Salvadeo, who pushed him to study fashion in Milan: his talent led him to Paris, to Guy Laroche’s studio, where he was struck by the international ferment and refined taste. The story of Valentino Garavani is a story of immense talent, hard work and immense success, but it starts from a failure: his first company, founded in 1957 with the help of his father, did not take off.

Valentino Garavani in 1968

Valentino Garavani in 1968

The story could have ended there, but an encounter completely changes the course of events: Valentino Garavanibudding stylist, met the architecture student Giancarlo Giammetti, the man who would become his life companion and business partner. Together, they founded Maison Valentino via Condotti, a workshop that in a few years would become the haunt of celebrities, movie stars, heirs to Roman nobility.

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Valentino and Naomi Campbell in 1990

Valentino and Naomi Campbell in 1990

A symbiotic relationship was born between Giancarlo Giammetti and Garavani: friends, life partners, business partners. One on books, the other free to create. It was the years of Hollywood on the Tiber, of the Dolce Vita, and Valentino knew what his clients wanted: “Be beautiful“He would have said so, many years later, in the documentary about his life the last emperor, appellation it has earned over the decades. His clothes were distinguished by the elegance of the lines, the mastery of precious embroidery, the absolute colors: black, white, red. Yes, red: struck by a theatrical spectacle, Valentino Garavani chose red as his style signature, an emblem of femininity and sensuality.

The famous Valentino red fashion show, fall-winter 2002-03

The famous Valentino red fashion show, fall-winter 2002-03

Because Valentino is the last emperor of fashion

Valentino’s style has spanned fashions and decades: he has dressed Liz Taylor, Jackie Kennedy, Sophia Loren. Unable to dress queen elisabeth, but they shook hands. The American press calls him Chic after the blessing received from Diana VreelandDirector of vogue. Valentino’s farewell to fashion wasn’t an event, it was The Event with a capital e: three days of celebrations that brought together royalty and Hollywood stars in Rome, where Valentino showed his creations at the Ara Pacis, to then toast at a gala among the columns of the Temple of Venus.

Valentino's clothes on display at the Ara Pacis

Valentino’s clothes on display at the Ara Pacis

Valentino’s great epic continues today, but with a new direction. The brand was sold in 1998 to the German company Hdp then taken over by the Marzotto group and finally in 2007 passed to a group in the United Arab Emirates. Today the brand is designed by Pierpaolo Piccioli, who is writing a new chapter of success. But the last emperor remains him, Mr. Garavani, the quintessence of Valentino, with his glory and his whims, the cult of beauty and perfectionism, his temper tantrums and his passion for pugs.

Valentino Garavani and Giancarlo Giammetti

Valentino Garavani and Giancarlo Giammetti

No pharaonic party this year, confirms the press office, but a party with some close friends. Both legend and icon, the man who made Italian fashion synonymous with elegance around the world. After him, the deluge.

“After me, the deluge!”

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