The designer turns 90 today

The designer after the spring / summer 1995 collection surrounded by supermodels: Yasmeen Ghauri, Nadja Auermann, Claudia Schiffer, Karen Mulder and Stephanie Seymour.  (Image: Getty Images)

The designer after the spring / summer 1995 collection surrounded by supermodels: Yasmeen Ghauri, Nadja Auermann, Claudia Schiffer, Karen Mulder and Stephanie Seymour. (Image: Getty Images)

Congratulations

Italian fashion designer Valentino Garavani turns 90 today. Time for a look at his great work, which did not accommodate a fleeting spirit of the time, but followed the pursuit of elegance.

Valentino Garavani, born in Voghera near Genoa in 1932, is not tall. If you look at the last pictures of his shows, the models sometimes even tower a head above him. Nevertheless, he has gone down in fashion history as one of the greats. Karl Lagerfeld once said after one of his legendary shows: “This is how it should be!”

Together with his friend Giancarlo Giammetti, he founded his Valentino fashion house, now known worldwide, in 1960. With his first collection, Valentino already managed to show the direction in which he wanted to take his company. He worked independently, visionarily and freely – and geared up for a clientele where big performances were a part of everyday life.

The exciting «V» red

Valentino showed off the first off-the-shoulder cocktail dress in the legendary Valentino red back in 1959. Years later, Jennifer Aniston wore this dress to the premiere of “Along Came Polly.”

Jennifer Aniston in 2004 in a Valentino cocktail dress first presented in 1959. (Image: Getty Images)

Jennifer Aniston in 2004 in a Valentino cocktail dress first presented in 1959. (Image: Getty Images)

The color became the designer’s trademark. According to Valentino, the red color suits any woman – only very few women would know it.

To mark Valentino's 45th corporate anniversary opened

To mark Valentino’s 45th corporate anniversary, the “Ara Pacis Museum” in Rome opened an exhibition in 2007 and presented his work. More than 200 of his designs were displayed. Many of the creations have been worn through decades by women like Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Julia Roberts, Princess Diana and Gwyneth Paltrow. (Image: Getty Images)

Triple Valentino Red Supermodel Natalia Vodianova, designer Valentino, singer Natalie Imbruglia and supermodel Eva Herzigova pose at the Love Ball gala dinner in honor of Valentino at GUM on Red Square on February 13, 2008 in Moscow.  (Image: Getty Images)

Triple Valentino Red Supermodel Natalia Vodianova, designer Valentino, singer Natalie Imbruglia and supermodel Eva Herzigova pose at the Love Ball gala dinner in honor of Valentino at GUM on Red Square on February 13, 2008 in Moscow. (Image: Getty Images)

Playing with lace, tulle, silk and more

But do not just look “V” red when looking at the fashion designer’s work: bows in all shapes were also original in Valentino’s collections. They gave his design, oversized or discreet, stability and sophistication. Valentino’s play with lace, tulle, silk, pearls, embroidery, feathers, organza and much more always transformed his creations into manifestos of haute couture craftsmanship.

A dress with white tulle beads from 1969 worn by Audrey Hepburn.  There is probably no female personality without a Valentino creation.  (Image: Getty Images)

A dress with white tulle beads from 1969 worn by Audrey Hepburn. There is probably no female personality without a Valentino creation. (Image: Getty Images)

Jackie Kennedy was one of Valentino's most loyal and important customers.  After the death of her husband JF Kennedy, Valentino designed several of her dresses and later her dress from 1968 for the wedding of the Greek shipowner Onassis.  Here is a Valentino creation that Jackie Kennedy wore to an exhibition that opened at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 1979. (Image: Getty Images)

Jackie Kennedy was one of Valentino’s most loyal and important customers. After the death of her husband JF Kennedy, Valentino designed several of her dresses and later her dress from 1968 for the wedding of the Greek shipowner Onassis. Here is a Valentino creation that Jackie Kennedy wore to an exhibition that opened at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 1979. (Image: Getty Images)

The timeless V logo

Valentino also had an extraordinary sense of the moods and tendencies of a time and was able to step out of the queue. In the late 1960s, for example, when many fashion houses presented collections in a psychedelic frenzy of colors, patterns and materials – Pucci (colorful), Yves Sain Laurent (transparent) or Paco Rabanne (clothes made of lacquered aluminum discs) – it was Valentino who in 1968 presented an almost simple All White Haute Couture Collection (spring / summer 1968).

The famous white coat from the spring / summer collection 1968 with golden V-applications on the four pockets.  Like jewelry, the V-signature flows into the design as a design element.  At the time, it was extremely progressive and visionary - and by no means unplayable.  (Image: Getty Images)

The famous white coat from the spring / summer collection 1968 with golden V-applications on the four pockets. Like jewelry, the V-signature flows into the design as a design element. At the time, it was extremely progressive and visionary – and by no means unplayable. (Image: Getty Images)

The collection included suits with embroidered jackets and skirts. The collection attracted a lot of attention: Jackie Kennedy chose her dress from it for her wedding to Aristotle Onassis. The non-colored collection fit beautifully into the aesthetics of the time and the atmosphere of brutalism and avant-garde. Not as a loud shout, but as a sophisticated, elegant contrast.

Valentino’s decision to use the V logo as a style element was also visionary and progressive – no other house came up with such an idea in 1968, at least not so consistently. As a print, as an accessory, part of the cut, the V logo appeared as a signature directly on designs – a V was found almost everywhere.

The perfect dress for the red carpet

When Julia Roberts wore a vintage Valentino dress in 2001 to the Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role for her role in “Erin Brockovich,” a storm of excitement erupted. The dress was from a collection from 1992. Interesting is also the subtle hint of the V that appears on Robert’s back.

Both Roberts and Jennifer Aniston’s achievements are a testament to how Valentino’s designs stand the test of time. Because they are committed to a beauty ideal that is free from fashionable hyperventilating ambitions.

The dress is one of the most famous red carpet dresses ever, according to Debenhams polls published in the Daily Telegraph.  (Image: Getty Images)

The dress is one of the most famous red carpet dresses ever, according to Debenhams polls published in the Daily Telegraph. (Image: Getty Images)

Goodbye as a designer

For the company’s 45th anniversary in 2007 (Valentino made its show debut in Florence in 1962) there was a three-day celebration with the opening of an exhibition in the “Museum Ara-Pacis” and a haute couture show in the “Complesso Monumentale San” Spirito “in Sassia, Rome. It was this year’s celebration. Everyone was there. The actresses, the politics, the nobility, the designer colleagues, the top models. During the celebrations, he declined to retire. But three months later, in October 2007, he announced his retirement from the company.

Valentino said goodbye to a magnificent haute couture show that once again summed up everything that has made his work and style so unique for decades: incorruptibly precise craftsmanship, dramatically intriguing elegance, creations in the typical Valentino red, but also in white and black, playful dresses in wonderful draping or with lace, pearls, bows, ruffles and wreaths.

Italian fashion designer Valentino Garavani (75 years old at the moment) is celebrating 45 years in the fashion industry when his latest haute couture collection is presented on July 7, 2007 at Rome's Complesso Monumentale di Borgo Santo Spirito in Sassia.  (Image: Keystone)

Italian fashion designer Valentino Garavani (75 years old at the moment) is celebrating 45 years in the fashion industry when his latest haute couture collection is presented on July 7, 2007 at Rome’s Complesso Monumentale di Borgo Santo Spirito in Sassia. (Image: Keystone)

The virtual Valentino Garavani Museum

By the way, there is no physical Valentino Museum – but you can get a virtual overview of his work here. On the one hand, Valentino’s extensive work can be discovered, on the other hand, there are articles that provide an insight into Valentino’s life. For example, Valentino’s and Giammetti’s connection to Gstaad is shown in three chapters. Hotels, restaurants or recipes are recommended.

The lesson

Valentino’s life’s work as one of the most famous fashion designers is remarkable and makes it clear that fashion can go a wide variety of paths. He remained true to what he loved, further developed it and perfected it tirelessly – his collections never became boring. He was also a pioneer in today’s debates on sustainability. His work proves that clothing can be worn by stars for decades if it is not based solely on the spirit of the times.

Even the oldest designs can still cause happy gasps today. This will be Valentino’s legacy one day. His designs are not disguises, but always a tribute: to the fashion arts and the personalities of the wearers.

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