That color some­where be­tween ruby red, pur­ple and cad­mium red, nowa­days as eter­nal as the reds of Ti­tian. El­e­gance as a pact be­tween en­ergy and re­gal­ity that links the his­tory of in­ter­na­tional fash­ion to its cre­ator.

All About Italy (USA) - - All About Italy - Paolo Del Panta

It all be­gan when, as a young man at the Barcelona Opera House, Valentino Gar­a­vani first saw the beauty hid­den within col­ors: “There were red out­fits on stage, the women wore red gowns and they stuck-out like gera­ni­ums on bal­conies, and the arm­chairs and cur­tains were in red (…) I un­der­stood then that af­ter black and white, there was no more beau­ti­ful color.”

And so since then he has never ceased to in­tro­duce into his col­lec­tions at least one dress in that shade. He did so on the cat­walk in 2008 in Paris, and again at the farewell cer­e­mony at the colos­seum with bal­leri­nas fly­ing across the sky of a Rome dressed in red. He re­peats it daily with red roses that grow at his French res­i­dence, Widev­ille Cas­tle. That red, in the last fifty years, has be­come time­less and never ba­nal, through­out fash­ion and with the ad­mi­ra­tion of ev­ery­one, cre­at­ing a tonal icon that is iden­ti­fied not just as red, but as Valentino Red. In Genesis, the sig­nif­i­cance at­trib­uted to the color red is of be­ing the spirit from which life it­self de­rives - an ele­giac color, iden­ti­fied and im­i­tated by many by way of its weight and sen­su­al­ity that even to­day is im­me­di­ately recog­nis­able. Right from the very first shows hosted by the fash­ion house cap­tained by Gar­a­vani, staged in the early six­ties in the Pitti Palace, his use of color was out of the or­di­nary, a com­bi­na­tion of a chiaroscur­o of un­usual tonal­ity, and won­der­ful shades which all came to­gether into a mix­ture of ruby, pur­ple and cad­mium. If, since 1959 - the year that the first Ate­lier opened in Rome at No. 15 via dei Con­dotti - trends have var­ied due to con­tin­u­ing so­cio-po­lit­i­cal changes, red con­tin­ues to rep­re­sent el­e­gance in all the pres­ti­gious col­lec­tions by Valentino who al­ways strove to pro­duce gar­ments that could be worn by women sim­ply, ev­ery day, on any oc­ca­sion.

The sev­en­ties were the years where Valentino’s women wore long trapeze dresses, chif­fon cock­tail frocks and trans­parency ar­rived un­ex­pect­edly on the cat­walk, col­lec­tions be­com­ing more sump­tu­ous while still re­tain­ing their typ­i­cal el­e­gance. And when in the sev­en­ties there was a rise in so­cial un­rest, it was mir­rored in Valentino’s work by some­times asym­met­ri­cal cuts, the eight­ies saw the ap­pear­ance of so­phis­ti­cated busi­ness­women wear­ing gar­ments with the shoul­ders em­pha­sized, es­pe­cially so with two-piece suits. As fash­ions changed and be­came more or less af­flu­ent ac­cord­ing to so­cial changes, the Valentino dress evolved decade af­ter decade, re­main­ing al­ways ex­tremely stylish, lin­ear cuts, vamp dresses with drap­ery cut di­rectly on the model’s body, dresses with plung­ing neck­lines at the back and hour­glass fig­ures. Forms, de­lib­er­ately out­ra­geous, but still bal­anced and reach­ing per­fect har­mony of pro­por­tion, giv­ing his de­signs a “clas­sic” look.

There is style in Valentino’s world, but also re­search, train­ing, ref­er­ences to the world of art and, above all, the de­sire to cre­ate gar­ments which go be­yond be­ing sim­ply clothes.

Some of so­ci­ety’s most im­por­tant women have worn his cre­ations, dyed with that fig­ure-hug­ging red which trans­forms them into the dresses of dreams. When Valentino was asked to re­mem­ber the most im­por­tant red dress that he had been com­mis­sioned to de­sign for a spe­cial oc­ca­sion, he didn’t hes­i­tate: “For Jackie Kennedy dur­ing an even­ing at the

It was 1962 when a young Valentino de­buted his first col­lec­tion at the Pitti in Florence: it was the con­se­cra­tion of an in­ter­na­tional cou­turier.

Metropoli­tan Mu­seum of New York af­ter she came out of mourn­ing for her hus­band. I de­signed her a dress in stiff red silk with a large skirt with lots of pleats”. Eight ac­tresses have re­ceived an Os­car while dressed in one of Valentino’s cre­ations and

he has dressed some of the most im­por­tant per­son­al­i­ties in the world: “I adore Marion Cotil­lard and Emma Stone but I’m for­ever tied to good friends Gwyneth Pal­trow, Ni­cole Kid­man and, of course, that su­per­star: Meryl Streep”.

He adores the women he has dressed, es­pe­cially the high class ladies from early in his ca­reer but he is en­joy­ing the new mil­len­nium be­cause: “Now every­body loves haute cou­ture”. In 2001, Ju­lia Roberts took the Os­car for “Erin Brock­ovich” dressed in a black-and-white gown which will be­come a leg­end, it was a mo­ment that Valentino de­scribes as one of the most mem­o­rable of his ca­reer.

He has dressed the cinema and now cinema has im­mor­tal­ized him with an Amer­i­can film-doc­u­men­tary called “Valentino: The Last Em­peror” di­rected by Matt Tyr­nauer and filmed over two years in which the di­rec­tor with his cam­era have been film­ing Valentino and his part­ner, Gian­carlo Gi­ammetti. Two peo­ple who have been loved and ad­mired for fifty years and who to­gether have built an em­pire, changed the world of fash­ion and de­fined what “Made in Italy” means, be­com­ing icons and am­bas­sadors for Ital­ian style and for mod­ern Italy.

Valentino has al­ways striven for per­fec­tion and, as two of his col­lab­o­ra­tors, Piera Sensi and Franco Rossi re­mem­bered in the book “Rosso Valentino”, he al­ways as­sumed the at­ti­tude of a com­poser who jots down ideas like mu­si­cal no­ta­tion: hav­ing ar­rived he just had to take out of his pocket some sketches which his as­sis­tants were ca­pa­ble of trans­form­ing into fin­ished de­signs. From these he drew out paper tem­plates be­fore set­ting them out on the fa­mous white “can­vas”: the proper sketches of the dresses were then sub­mit­ted to the ‘Mae­stro’ who by now was at his desk. Work­ing with pins he formed shape and bulk in a fas­ci­nat­ing pro­gres­sion which left his as­sis­tants agog. Once the master­piece could be said to have been com­pleted, all his team would race to show their ad­mi­ra­tion. Per­fec­tion, al­ways per­fec­tion.

His last col­lec­tion was shown in Paris in Jan­uary

2008, and was a dif­fi­cult farewell, but “This empti­ness which I thought over­whelm­ing, passed very quickly. It was ex­actly the right mo­ment to end a ca­reer that has brought me hap­pi­ness, fame and for­tune. If I’d con­tin­ued, I would not have been able to work with the cur­rent changes where ev­ery­thing is profit-driven and con­trolled by fi­nance alone”. Not that he didn’t en­joy the money, but he couldn’t bear the thought of los­ing the dream and fac­ing re­al­ity. With this great farewell to the fash­ion in­dus­try af­ter an hon­ourable forty-five year ca­reer the brand gave way to the cre­ations of the Cre­ative Di­rec­tor Alessan­dra Facchinett­i and later to those of the much more win­ning duo Chi­uri-pic­ci­oli. In the lat­ter part of 2014 they will show in Shang­hai the col­lec­tion

In 1967 he won two prizes: The Neiman Mar­cus Award in Dal­las, equiv­a­lent to an Os­car for fash­ion, and the Martha Award in Palm Beach. Grand Of­fi­cial of the Or­der of Merit, Or­der of the Great Cross, Or­der of Merit for Work and in 2006 he re­ceived the French Le­gion of Honor.

NO SEA­SON with a theme in a thou­sand dif­fer­ent tones of red which will re­vive an un­pub­lished se­lec­tion of gowns.

There is no short­age or red in the lat­est chap­ter of Valentino’s life, a red re­jected in his original masterpiec­es, but very el­e­gant and com­bined with an in­no­va­tive punk spirit for the women of to­day. Miles from the fash­ion world of 2007 and in com­fort­able re­tire­ment, Valentino to­day, con­tin­ues to be the artist he al­ways was, but with a life­style more pri­vate and re­served. He lives in France and in this in­ter­view, he con­fessed that he rises late of a morn­ing, and only drinks a sin­gle glass of wine per day, prays a lot, has never used a tablet com­puter and adores his fam­ily, made up of grand­chil­dren, lots of friends and of course, Gian­carlo Gi­ammetti with whom he has shared his en­tire ex­is­tence full of joy and pain and en­thu­si­asm. As for his dream, af­ter so much work and so much world­wide ac­claim, Rome, the Eter­nal City is still cen­tral to him, Rome, the only place where he truly feels at home: “I’m ex­pect­ing the city to give me space to build my mu­seum, it’s some­thing that I feel I’ve earned and that I would like to give to all Ro­mans”.

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