Italian fashion designer and founder of the Valentino SpA brand and company Valentino Clemente Ludovico Garavani, best known as Valentino, was born on 11th May 1932 in Voghera, Lombardy.
Valentino became interested in men and women fashion while in primary school and at the age of 17 he moved to Paris to pursue this interest with the help of his mother Teresa and his father Mauro Garavani. There he studied at the L’Ecole des Beaux Arts and at the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne.
He worked as apprentice in Paris for Jacques Fath, Balenciaga, Jean Desses and Guy Laroche. At Desses, Valentino sketched furiously, between helping with window dressing and greeting clients for the daily 2:30 p.m. private showings.
In 1959 Valentino left Paris and moved back to Italy with his lover, French socialite Gerald Nanty and opened a fashion house in Rome on the posh Via Condotti. Valentino became known for his red dresses, in the bright shade that became known in the fashion industry as “Valentino red”.
Valentino’s international debut took place in 1962 in Florence, the Italian fashion capital of the time. After breakthrough show in Florence, Valentino started to dress the ladies of the international best-dressed crowd.
In 1966, confident of his client base, he moved his shows from Florence to Rome and there, two years later, he had one of his greatest triumphs, an all-white collection, which became famous for the “V” logo he designed.
By the mid-1960s he was already considered the undisputed maestro of Italian Couture, receiving in 1967 the Neiman Marcus Fashion Award, the equivalent of an Oscar in the field of fashion. The Begum Aga Khan, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Queen Paola of Belgium, Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn, Gloria Guinness, Marella Agnelli, Jayne Wrightsman, Marisa Berenson, Veruschka and Princess Margaret were already customers as well as personal friends.
Throughout the 1970s Valentino spent considerable time in New York City where his presence was embraced by society personalities such as Vogue’s editor-in-chief Diana Vreeland and the art icon Andy Warhol.
In 1998 Valentino and his partner Giancarlo Giammetti sold the company for approximately $800 million Euro (1.1 billion American dollars) to HdP, an Italian conglomerate controlled, in part, by the late Gianni Agnelli, the head of Fiat.
In 2002, Valentino S.p.A., with revenues of more than $180 million, was sold by HdP to Marzotto Apparel, a Milan-based textile giant, for $210 million.
This is a selection of shoes from Valentino’s HC S/S 2010 collection.
See Valentino’s HC S/S 2010 show here