"I know what women want! They want to be beautiful!" | THE FULL BIOGRAPHY OF VALENTINO - Fashion Worldwide

Valentino Garavani is one of Italy’s finest designers in the whole world best known as the founder of the Valentino SpA company. His full name is Valentino Clemente Ludovico Garavani and he was born on May 11, 1932 in Lombardy, Italy.

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Because his signature is among the collections of the biggest runways aroung the globe and it’s still rocking the fashion world, we have to tell you the full story of the “Valentino red” and not only.


At the age of 17, the designer moved to Paris to pursue his interest in fashion and study at the prestigious École des Beaux-Arts and at the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne. After the studies, he became an apprentice at Jean Dessès. Here he sketched every design he had in mind making illustrations that were preserved as his signature.


He had in mind to set up his eponymous label in Rome. Until then, he watched and learned in Paris at his friend Guy Laroche’s small fashion house.

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Valentino left Paris to open a fashion house in Rome, with the help of his parents. He modeled his business on the grand houses he had seen in Paris. In his early shows, Valentino quickly gained recognition for his red dresses, in a shade that became widely known as “Valentino red“. Valentino brought with him to Rome the grandeur and the knowledge that he had experienced in Paris, establishing a reputation among the elite of the Dolce Vita.


He met Giancarlo Giammetti and initiated a long-lasting and steady relationship that would last until the present. Shortly after that Giammetti became Valentino’s business partner. Together, they developed Valentino SpA that soon became an internationally recognized brand.

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His biggest moment was the presentation of the couture collection at the Pitti Palace in Florence for the first time to critical acclaim. This was seen as his breakthrough and he soon became the go-to for dressing the whole world.


Among Valentino’s most loyal clients was Jacqueline Kennedy. She developed an interest in the designer’s work after admiring friends in several Valentino clothing items. In 1964, Kennedy ordered 6 dresses in black and white, which she wore during the year following the assassination of her husband, President John F. Kennedy. She would remain a friend and a Valentino client from that moment on, linking the designer’s name to her own iconic status in the fashion world.


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During this time, he became the top designer in Italian Haute Couture and received the prestigious Neiman Marcus Fashion Award for his infamous “no-colour collection” for which he bucked the trend for decadent colour palettes, choosing instead for beige, white, and ivory shades. This collection brought to the table the “V” that soon became his trademark.

During that time, his client list included the Begum Aga Khan, Queen Paola of Belgium and movie stars like Elizabeth Taylor and Audrey Hepburn.


The designer opened his first Ready-To-Wear Shops in Milan and Rome. After that, he was off to New York where he would spent the 70’s meeting and dressing famous personalities from the fashion and art world.


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During the 80’s he launched the first Valentino Childrenswear Line as well as a collection of clothing for young adults which he named Olivier after his pet pug.



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He opened The Academie Valentino in Rome, a cultural centre to house art exhibitions and cultural activities.


The designer sold his company to Holding di Partecipazioni Industriali (HdP) for $300 million.


HdP sold Valentino to luxury group Marzotto. Throughout both transactions Valentino stayed on as designer, being a huge influence into the fashion designs and sill bringing his vision.


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Valentino made a cameo appearance in The Devil Wears Prada, alongside Meryl Streep who played Miranda Priestly, a fictional American Vogue editor. During the same year he was awarded the prestigious 6th Legion d’Honneur at a ceremony at the Culture Ministry in Paris’s Palais Royale.

I’m feeling wonderful! Just wonderful!“, said Valentino.

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He announced that he was retiring from designing and, a month after that, he still presented his final Ready-To-Wear Show during the Spring-Summer 2008 Fashion Week in Paris. The show included famous models like Naomi Campbell, Claudia Schiffer and Eva Herzigova.


He was featured in the documentary “Valentino: The Last Emperor” which had the premiere at the Venice Film Festival. It was produced by the journalist Matt Tyrnauer who followed the designer around both personal and formal events to provide an accurate and private portrait.


The Valentino Garavani Virtual Museum was launched at www.valentino-garavani-archives.org serving as a authoritative resource for the life and works of Valentino.


In October 2012, he was awarded with one of the highest honours in France, The Commandeur de l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres medal to mark the recognition of his work for the fashion industry. The Valentino: Master of Couture exhibition opened in Somerset House a month later.

Despite his retirement from designing for the Valentino label, Valentino Garavani still works on special commissions. For example, he designed actress Anne Hathaway’s wedding dress in late 2012 and the bridal gown worn by Princess Madeleine of Sweden for her royal nuptials in June 2013.

He is appreciated for his exquisite couture creations and romantic red carpet gowns. Nowadays, he is retired from the fashion business but remains a significant figure in the fashion world.


©2017 Fashion Worldwide


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