Mr Valentino Garavani celebrated his 80th birthday yesterday. That is the second anniversary he is celebrating this year, because Valentino – the fashion house – is celebrating its 50 years of existence.
Valentino was born near Milan and went to Paris at the age of 17 to go study at the prestigious Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture. Before founding his own fashion house, he worked for couturiers Jean Sesses and Guy Laroche. His first celebrity customer was Liz Taylor, who wore a white Valentino dress at the movie premier of Spartacus. But his real breakthrough came with Jacqueline Kennendy when she started wearing Valentino in the mix sixties. Later, he would design the white gown she wore in 1968 at her wedding to Onassis.
Valentino retired in 2008, presenting his final couture show in Paris at the Musée Rodin on January 23, 2008. But retirement doesn’t mean doing nothing for Valentino. In 2011, the Valentino Garavani Virtual Museum was launched and became available at www.valentino-garavani-archives.org.
For almost 50 years, he has been making the most beautiful dresses a women could wish for. He is a true couturier, an endangered species by now.