Decoded: Breaking Down the DNA of Valentino

Valentino Garavani

Admit it. You have looked forward to certain events just for the opportunity to get dressed up and feel extra glamorous for a night. You spent way too much time in front of the mirror trying on your highest heels, your favorite lipstick, and your fanciest dress hoping others marvel at the shiny perfect specimen that you spent hours molding yourself into.

So, just admit it. It’s ok. We’ve all done it.

And we have all had moments of silent envy towards those mesmerizing old school film stars and socialites with their high cheekbones, glossy hair, and closets full of expensive haute couture.

“Ugh. Why can’t my life be like that?” we think to ourselves as we envision our perfect champagne dream.

While many of us harbor a deep admiration for these satin-covered sirens, there apparently has been no one more inspired by them than Italian fashion designer, Valentino Garavani.

As a boy, Valentino delighted in flipping through magazines and going to the movies with his sister to see the latest black and white feature. He was captivated by the beauty of the era’s leading ladies and quickly discovered that his calling in life was to work in women’s fashion.

I remember very well when I was young, I would fake to be asleep and would [lay awake to] dream about movie stars and everything beautiful in the world – Valentino Garavani

“I remember very well when I was young, I would fake to be asleep and would [lay awake to] dream about movie stars and everything beautiful in the world,” he once told a reporter. Already from a young age, he was a dreamer and he felt his purpose was to reveal his own visions of grandeur to the world.

He eventually went on to study fashion in Paris before returning to Rome with the belief that Italy deserved to have just as much authority in high fashion as neighboring France. He dreamed of creating a new grand fashion house and was determined to be the one to build up his country’s credibility in the haute couture scene.

Throughout most of his tenure, he was someone who worked tirelessly to design 100 percent hand-crafted ensembles exclusively for the jet setting elite. His lifelong dedication to his craft mixed with some perfectionist tendencies compelled the fashion industry to recognize him as one of the last true couturiers. Valentino’s love of glitzy ostentatious beauty served as the basis for most of his collections and cemented him as this last half century’s leading man of glamour.

Sophia Loren and Valentino Garavani

For five decades, everyone who’s anyone has been seen rocking Valentino-brand designs: Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn, Sophia Loren, Jackie Kennedy, Naomi Campbell, Jennifer Lopez, and various European royals.

In the 2009 documentary Valentino: The Last Emporer, Mr. Garavani stated, “I knew I had arrived when beautiful important ladies of international society began to dress in my clothes.” And from that moment on, he was a man obsessed. Obsessed with his love of beauty. Obsessed with keeping icons forever paparazzi-ready. Obsessed with his brand’s prestige. He was never one to leave his reputation up to chance, but instead channeled all of his energy into making each collection more exciting, more elegant, and more aligned with his original value of being surrounded by beauty just for the sake of it.

Eventually, he retired from the role of creative director for the brand in 2008, but nevertheless, still enjoys surrounding himself with glamour and luxury from aboard his 152-foot yacht floating around in the Mediterranean.

The Valentino brand has since had two different creative directors (Alessandra Facchinetti: 2007-2008 and Pier Paolo Piccioli: 2008 – present), both of whom have strived to update the brand (and its three sub-brands) for the modern fashion market while still finding ways to pay homage to some of the brand’s original DNA markers: glamour, exclusivity, prestige, and unabashed beauty.

Next time you look at one of the brands’ pieces, you are sure to notice the use of classic colors, shiny metallics, animal prints, tassels, studs, and the occasional giant V; All of which work together to legitimize our dreams of being unashamedly extravagant beauties who are worthy of experiencing the high life and all of the stylish luxuries that it comes with.

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