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Valentino Garavani and the Red Dress

Updated on July 10, 2012

Valentino Garavani (born: 1932)

Valentino SpA

Valentino was the founder of the brand Valentino SpA and is a fashion designer from Italy. The primary fashion lines produced include R.E.D.Valentino, Valentino Roma, Valentino Garavani and Valentino.Best known simply as "Valentino," Valentino_Clemente_Ludovico Garavani was born on the eleventh of May in nineteen thirty-two.

First Apprenticeship in Paris

In Paris, his first apprenticeship choice before Balenciaga was JacquesFath. He later apprenticed with JeanDesses where he assisted in styling Jacqueline deRibes, the countess as well as sketch her ideas for dresses. For two years he partnered with Guy Laroche. At JeanDesses, he furiously sketched, assisting with welcoming clientele for the private showings at 2:30 daily and the window dressing.

Interest in fashion began in northern Italy in the town of Voghera, Lombardy while Valentino was in primary school He did his apprenticeship at the locale Ernestina Salvadeo and his aunt Rosa. Later he went to pursue his interest in Paris with his father Mauro Garavani and Teresa deBiaggi his mother. He studied at the ChambreSyndicale dela Couture Parisienne and at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts.

Many of his earlier work was lost but some were featured at a nineteen ninety-one Rome exhibition. His clients at the time were Elizabeth Taylor and Marie Helene deRothschild, who noted that the Valentino style was apparently noticeable even with layers of animal prints and white pleats.

After 5 years, Valentino joined Guy Laroche after leaving Jean Desses. Later he went back to Italy, setting up shop here in the year nineteen fifty-nine.

Via Condotti Roma

In the year nineteen fifty-nine Valentino opened a house of fashion in Rome after leaving Paris on the Via Condotti posh location, backed by his associate and his father. The shop resembled a true couture maison rather than an atelier.

It looked like what Valentino saw in Paris, where models were flown to Rome from Paris for his show and everything was quite grand. He became popular for dresses that were red, dubbed by the industry as "ValentinoRed."

Pitti Palace Florence

In Florence, Valentino debuted internationally in the year '62 where the public welcomed his 1st show located at the PittiPalace. After this breakthrough, ladies started getting dressed by him such as socialites from New York Jayne Wrightsman, BabePaley and Countess Jacqueline de Ribes.

By the mid-sixties he was beginning to become considered as the Italian Couture maestro, receiving the NeimanMarcus FashionAward in '67, which is not unlike an Oscar Award in the fashion field. Personal friends and customers included Princess Margaret, Veruschka, Maris Berenson, Jayne Wrightsman, Marella Agnelli, Gloria Guinness, Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Babe Paley, Belgium's QueenPaola, Lee Radziwill, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Farah Diba and The Begum Aga Khan.

At one point Gloria Schiff, American Vogue fashion editor's sister wore a black organza 2-piece ensemble seen by Jacqueline Kennedy. It made quite an impression on Kennedy who asked who the designer was. The designer, of course was Valentino.

New York City

It was in '64 when Valentino was presenting a show in the Waldorf Astoria New York hotel, Jacqueline Kennedy was unable to attend so Valentino sent a sales representative, a model and main collection pieces to her 5th Avenue apartment. She then ordered six black and white dresses that were haute couture and wore them for her mourning year after the assassination of John F.Kennedy.


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    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 5 years ago from North Carolina

      While it is very important (mother's wisdom) to have that little black dress in one's wardrobe, I'm a Valentino kind of gal and LOVE red and that 'woman in red' look. I have worn both to various events, and let me tell was the little red number that got more attention than the black. :) Thanks for the info on Valentino...Up/I