In the worlds of luxury fashion and opulent living, Valentino Garavani is as established as they come. The designer, known for his stellar career and flamboyant lifestyle, had been interested in fashion from the earliest stages of his life. His very first apprenticeship, in fact, came when he was still in primary school back in his hometown of Voghera, in Lombardy, an area in northern Italy. He later moved to Paris to follow his passion, studying along the way at the esteemed Ècole des Beaux-Arts (from which another famous designer, Hubert de Givenchy, had already graduated).
Following apprenticeships at Jacques Fath, Balenciaga and Jean Dessès, Valentino moved back to Rome in 1960 to open his own fashion house, following the model of the Parisian houses he had experienced for so long during his studies. It was here in his first year that he met and partnered with Giancarlo Giammetti, designed dresses in a shade of red that came to be known as ‘Valentino Red’, and built his life’s legacy.
Valentino: “I realised my life’s dream: to make women’s clothing. I know what women want.”
Reporter: “And what do they want?”
Valentino: “They want to be beautiful.”
Outside of fashion, Valentino is well known for his many homes all over the world and their decorations, many of which boast incredible catalogues of art from famous artists such as Pablo Picasso, Damien Hirst and Roy Lichtenstein, while his lifestyle has drawn much attention, such that he has even been the subject of a documentary (above) made by Matt Tyrnauer, who was given an enviable amount of access to the designer and his inner circle of family and friends, including the loves of his life – his six pugs.
Valentino officially retired from his fashion duties in 2008 after nearly half a century in the business, though his evident influence on the world of fashion will no doubt survive us all.