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History of Valentino

by Paige McKirahan 31 Dec 2018 0 Comments

History of Valentino

By Paige McKirahan


There are few words that you think of when you hear Valentino, and most of them are associated with luxury. This haute couture label is one of the top fashion brands in the world and has been seen on industry magazines, runways, and red carpets around the globe. Everyone from the likes of Elizabeth Taylor to Naomi Campbell have been seen in these designs and with such a high profile presence in not only the fashion industry, but in the luxury industry as well, you would expect a history that lives up to fame. Valentino Garavani, the creator of the fashion house, made sure that in not only lived up to those expectations, but exceeded them.


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Garavani, an Italian native, was born in Voghera in 1932. He had an affinity for fashion starting at the beginning of his life, and eventually went on to study design in Paris at the beginning of 1950. He then was hired for his first design position with Jean Desses, and worked for them until 1967 when he obtained a position with Guy Laroche in his new atelier. After working there for two years and improving his taste and his technical skills, he returned to Italy and opened his own fashion house. At the end of 1957, he debuted his first haute couture collection and his refined lines and sophisticated aesthetic garnered great praise from publications like the Sunday Times in London.


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Valentino with his collection for Guy Laroche in 1967

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In the following three years, he quickly became the favorite of those in the “new Hollywood”, or Cincecitta, during great economic success in Italy. One of the first big names to wear a Valentino design was Elizabeth Taylor during her time filming Cleopatra in Rome. His collection for fall/ winter in 1961 boasted garments inspired by Jacqueline Kennedy, which only increased his growing global fame. His superstar status was secured after his 1962 show in Florence; the designs were so dazzling that he became the first Italian designer to have a French Vogue cover created in their honor.


Valentino 1961

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His fall/ winter collection for 1963, which featured wild animal motifs, landed him in the pages of American Vogue, launching his popularity in the American market. The 1966 Valentino collection has become famous for its pop-art inspired pieces, which were aligned with the iconic movement during that decade. The 1960s proved to be quite prosperous for the brand as the designer’s pieces and accessories, especially his handbags sporting the luxurious gold “V”, were considered to be fundamental parts of a jet setting woman’s wardrobe. 1968 saw critical moments for the label; its spring/ summer line that year contributed to the dissipation of a haute couture crisis that involved people looking at less exclusive models. Following the show, shops opened up in Paris and Milan and later that year Valentino designed Jacqueline Kennedy’s wedding dress. These events made Garavani the most acclaimed designer in the industry at that and set the tone for the rest of his time with the brand. 


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The 1970s brought experimental changes; a boutique line was created alongside of the Valentino label itself, and both lines adopted an art deco aesthetic. The brand’s first namesake perfume was released in 1978, and it was followed by a line of blue jeans that made their debut at none other than Studio 54. Moving into the ‘80s, we see the rise of the famous Valentino red accompanied by classic black and whites; the silhouettes included a variety of draping, ruching, and dramatic details. The ‘90s saw a decade of celebrations for the brand’s 30 years in fashion through a series of films, books and exhibitions. Valentino himself sold the brand to Holding di Partecipazioni Industriali SpA (HdP) in 1998, but remained the creative director until his retirement in 2008; his last show was at the Musee Rodin in Paris and featured the most iconic set of supermodels from all of his decades in fashion. After Garavani’s retirement, Ferruccio Pozzoni and Alessandra Facchinetti took over his position and they were then succeeded by Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli shortly after, who still director the label today.


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From Valentino's last show as creative director, 2008

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Valentino has seen a wide collection of iconic accessories ranging from heels to bags. As I said before, the iconic “V” bag was a staple in womens closet and established the house as an essential brand. The Valentino Rockstud heel is quite possibly the most iconic piece to come out of the brand; these studded, strappy stilettos have been a favorite of street style aficionados and have inspired an entire line from the brand. This newfound studded fame reignited the brands popularity and has brought Valentino back to the forefront and into the closets of millions. Check out our favorite Valentino piece in our collection and gift yourself some classic red couture this holiday season!

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