“La bellezza” – star designer Valentino turns 90

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Star designer Valentino turns 90
Italian fashion designer Valentino turns 90. © Claudio Onorati/epa/ANSA/dpa

Wherever Valentino Garavani appears, there are often stars and starlets. The designer made it to the top of the fashion Olympus with his label – and mingled with the world of color forever.

Rome – In the heart of Rome, in the famous Via dei Condotti, tourists and shopaholics press their noses flat. Valentino Garavani once founded an Italian fashion empire where luxury brands have their branches in the pretty old buildings and bouncers in suits guard the entrances.

It was 1959 when the namesake of the label for fashion and accessories opened his first studio. Together with his business partner and, at times, his life partner, Giancarlo Giammetti, he led the Valentino brand to world fame. For the dog lover, the focus was always “la bellezza”, i.e. creating beauty. The fashion designer is celebrating his 90th birthday on May 11th.

Talented draftsman

He was born Valentino Clemente Ludovico Garavani in 1932 in the small Piedmontese town of Voghera, south of the fashion metropolis of Milan. “I started very young and only once did I start to draw,” the talented draftsman once said in a television interview. “I’ve designed clothes and I’m not able to create something unless I’ve designed it first.”

The Valentino brand stands for elegance, for haute couture. Many creations make you think of glittering ball nights or elegant dinners. Its creator has dressed numerous famous women from the world of film and television and politics over the years. Former First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy wore Valentino.

The fan base of the brand with the famous “V” includes actress Meryl Streep – with whom the star designer had a brief appearance in the film “The Devil Wears Prada” – or pop star Jennifer Lopez. With “Valentino: The Last Emperor” not only a documentary was dedicated to him, but also his nickname “Kaiser”.

“Women want to be beautiful”

What women are all about – Valentino thought he knew the answer: “I know what women want. They want to be beautiful.” Last year he told the Italian daily Corriere della Sera: “Clothes are there to make you feel better, not to show off an idea.”

If you look over the Instagram profile of the fashion emperor, you can quickly see: red. Valentino not only created a world-famous brand, but also his own color, the “Rosso Valentino”. A strong shade of red that went down in history. A woman in the Catalan city of Barcelona is said to have inspired the young Valentino with her outfit while he was still a Parisian fashion student, wrote the fashion magazine “Vogue” 2020.

Hard time in the Corona pandemic

Even after Valentino left his brand founded in 1960 in 2008, the red has not disappeared from the collections, which designer Pierpaolo Piccioli is now in charge of. Valentino justified his decision at the time by wanting to lead a different life: “I want to take care of certain other things.” However, he did not stop with fashion, but instead fulfilled a wish and designed costumes for theaters, for example.

He certainly didn’t need the money for it. Villas in big cities like Rome, London or New York, yachts, a private plane, expensive parties: Valentino didn’t seem to be troubled by money. The corona pandemic apparently hit him harder, like many others. A journalist asked him last summer whether he wanted to travel again. “I wonder if I really want that,” replied the fashion czar. He still hasn’t gotten used to the noise and the events, and he prefers the lonely house with his dogs and closest friends.

Whether his attitude has since changed is largely unknown. Very few people know about Valentino’s private life and how the jubilee wants to celebrate his birthday. However, he can already count on a gift: on May 11, Voghera wants to honor him with the “Keys to the City” – an award from his native city. dpa

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