Last evening, Colin McDowell interviewed him and Giancarlo Giammetti in the beautiful Lancaster Room at Savoy Hotel, a memorable event followed by an exclusive viewing of the "Valentino: Master of Couture" exhibition at Somerset House.
|Colin McDowell, Valentino and Giancarlo Giammetti at Savoy Hotel|
He learned how to design in Paris and has spent eight years of his life designing for others before opening his own couture house in Italy, when he was only 24. His famous white collection exploded all over the world and Valentino became a superstar, dressing the most elegant women such as Audrey Hepburn and Jacqueline Kennedy, whom he described as a "fantastic muse."
|Jacqueline Kennedy in Valentino, 1967|
As McDowell said, Giancarlo Giammetti is "equally as important". He has been Valentino's right arm, taking care of the business side of the fashion empire they have built together. The bond and love between them is impressive, they have been sharing their lives for over fifty years and when Valentino received the Légion de honneur in Paris, he was in tears when expressing his gratitude to Giammetti.
|Valentino and Giancarlo Giammetti|
Valentino has influenced a wide range of designers, for instance the technique of mixing different lace patterns for the wedding dress of Princess Marie-Chantal of Greece in 1995 (one of the highlights of this marvellous exhibition) was replicated by Sarah Burton for the Duchess of Cambridge's wedding.
|Princess Marie-Chantal of Greece wedding|
|Bianca Jagger and Valentino, 1974|
Valentino still loves to design and has recently created the costumes for the New York City Ballet. At the end of the performance he was asked to go on stage and bowed to the audience. When he lifted his head he realised he was receiving a standing ovation from over two thousand people.
But it's impossible to write about him without mentioning the "Valentino Red" which goes back a long way. When he was 17 and working in Paris for a couturier, he was asked to go to Barcelona and invited to the opening night of the Opera House, where there was a lot of red. He thought to himself that if he would ever make it as a designer he would use red to give him good luck.
|Valentino presented the British Style Award to Alexa Chung at this year's ceremony|
Apart from his unique talent, what is also fascinating about him is the way he has always managed to capture the most stylish women throughout the years. In the exhibition it's possible to acknowledge this, from royalty to the silver screen, from the past to the present, the most elegant women in the world have worn his fabulous dresses.
Other related blog posts:
Valentino Virtual Museum
A Close-Up: Audrey Hepburn
Christmas Red Dress