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Valentino Garavani

Learn about fashion designer Valentino Garavani in this Howcast video with expert Nancy Deihl.


Valentino Garavani, who went by the name Valentino for his design career was born in 1932 in Lombardi, Italy. He was interested in fashion from the time he was very young and he trained in fashion illustration in Milan and then at the (?) in Paris. He got his first fashion job working for the couturiere Jean Doucet [SP] and then after that went to work with Guy Laroche, who had been is coworker at Jean Doucet.

When Guy Laroche left to from his own couture house. He worked as an assistant to the French couturiere Jean Doucet and left when his coworker Guy Laroche opened his own couture house in 1957. He worked with Guy Laroche for two years and then in 1959 decided to launch his own fashion business. Shortly thereafter he met Giancarlo Giammetti, who became his partner in life and business and was very important to the Valentino design house.

In 1959 with backing from his father he opened his own fashion business on the Via Condotti, the fashionable shopping street in Rome. Shortly thereafter he met his partner Giancarlo Giammetti, business partner and life partner who was very important to the success of the Valentino line. He showed his first couture collection in 1962 at the Palazzo Pitti in Florence, which was at that time the center of the fashion business in Italy.

Valentino’s successful business was built on the French couture model in which all the designs originated with him and were produced in work rooms by skilled technicians, pattern makers, seamstresses, people that did embroidery, etc. He had a very successful business with many outstanding clients including Elizabeth Taylor, who loved Valentino.

The Valentino aesthetic is always to this day unfailingly feminine and romantic. Valentino is a true lover of beauty and always tried to make his female clients beautiful. One of the things he’s known for is the use of this red. A particular orangey [SP] red. It shows up in all of his collections especially effective in the evening wear. There’s always a beautiful Valentino red dress in every collection.

While his business is based in Rome, the designer showed his couture collection in Milan until 1989 when he very daringly moved it to Paris. He’d always showed his ready to wear clothes there. Over his long career, Valentino received many awards including the Neiman Marcus award and even the Legion of Honor from the French government.

The 2008 movie, Valentino the Last Emperor is a fascinating look at the lifestyle and the preoccupation with beauty of one of the great couturieres of our time.

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