Known for his ethereal designs, signature ‘Valentino red,’ and an unerring eye for beauty and detail, Valentino Garavani, or simply Valentino, is a legend in the world of haute couture. His elegant creations, favored by stars and royals alike, have not only adorned red carpets and grand events but have also become iconic symbols of style and sophistication. Beyond his reputation as an extraordinary couturier, Valentino’s life is filled with lesser-known facts and intriguing stories. In this article, we delve into ten things you may not know about Valentino, offering an enriching journey into the life and legacy of this Italian fashion maestro.

1. Origins and Early Life

Valentino Garavani, known mononymously as Valentino, was born in Voghera, Italy, in 1932. Despite growing up in a small city, his ambition to pursue fashion was evident from a young age. He became interested in fashion while attending theatre and opera performances with his aunt, enamored by the elaborate costumes and grandeur.

Valentino’s parents supported his passion for fashion and enrolled him in a local fashion school at a young age. After graduating, he moved to Paris, where he studied at the École des Beaux-Arts and the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne, further cementing his love for fashion.

2. Started His Career at Jean Dessès

Before starting his eponymous fashion house, Valentino honed his skills working for other designers. His first significant role was at Jean Dessès, a French fashion designer known for his elegant draping and flowing chiffon dresses.

At Jean Dessès, Valentino spent nine years refining his skills and gaining industry experience. During his time there, he travelled extensively, drawing inspiration from global fashion trends. This experience was instrumental in shaping Valentino’s own design aesthetic, which often included intricate draping and the use of luxurious fabrics.

3. The Valentino Red

Valentino is famous for his use of the color red, often referred to as ‘Valentino red.’ He became fascinated with the color after visiting the opera in Barcelona as a young man. There, he saw the ‘opera red’ used in the performances and was immediately captivated.

Valentino’s obsession with this vibrant hue became a trademark of his brand. He often designed entire collections around the color, creating a signature look that was both dramatic and instantly recognizable. The Valentino red has since become an iconic part of fashion history, symbolizing the designer’s passion and romantic design sensibility.

4. Establishment of His Own House

In 1960, Valentino, alongside his business partner Giancarlo Giammetti, launched his own fashion house in Rome. His first couture line, which showcased intricate craftsmanship and extravagant designs, was well-received by fashion critics, marking his arrival on the international fashion scene.

Since its inception, the House of Valentino has continued to captivate the fashion world with its elegance and sophistication. Valentino’s meticulous attention to detail, combined with his ability to create timeless pieces, has solidified his status as one of the world’s leading fashion designers.

5. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis as His Muse

Valentino’s designs have been worn by many high-profile figures, but perhaps none more so than Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. The former First Lady became a fan of Valentino’s work in the 1960s and often wore his designs for public appearances.

Their professional relationship blossomed into a lifelong friendship, and Kennedy Onassis even chose a Valentino design for her wedding to Aristotle Onassis in 1968. This high-profile endorsement catapulted Valentino into the global spotlight and solidified his status as a designer to the stars.

6. The ‘V’ Logo

One of Valentino’s most recognizable symbols is the ‘V’ logo. Introduced in the 1960s, the logo quickly became synonymous with the brand. The bold, graphic logo represented a departure from the softer, more romantic designs that Valentino was known for.

The ‘V’ logo can be seen on many Valentino products, from accessories and handbags to the brand’s ready-to-wear collections. The enduring popularity of the logo signifies Valentino’s ability to balance timeless elegance with contemporary design.

7. The White Collection

In 1968, Valentino debuted his ‘White Collection,’ which was a radical departure from his previous work. The collection consisted solely of white garments, highlighting Valentino’s exquisite craftsmanship and his ability to create impactful designs without the use of color.

The ‘White Collection’ was met with critical acclaim and became one of Valentino’s most iconic collections. It demonstrated his innovative approach to fashion and his ability to push boundaries, even within his refined design aesthetic.

8. Valentino’s Love for Pugs

Valentino has a well-known love for pugs. He owns several of these dogs, often traveling with them and even including them in his documentary, “Valentino: The Last Emperor.”

The designer’s affection for his pets extends to his work, with images of his pugs appearing in some of his designs. This adds a personal touch to his collections and further humanizes the designer, showing a softer side to his glamorous public persona.

9. Retirement and Succession

After a successful career spanning over five decades, Valentino announced his retirement in 2007. His final couture show was held in Paris, where he showcased a collection that celebrated his illustrious career and paid homage to his iconic designs.

Following his retirement, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli, who had previously worked on Valentino’s accessory line, were appointed as the creative directors of the brand. Under their leadership, the house of Valentino has continued to flourish, honoring the brand’s legacy while infusing it with a contemporary edge.

10. Recognition and Legacy

Throughout his career, Valentino has received numerous accolades for his contributions to fashion. In 2006, he was awarded the Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur by French president Jacques Chirac. The following year, the mayor of Rome announced that the city’s famous Spanish Steps would be covered in red flowers as a tribute to the designer.

Valentino’s influence on fashion is undeniable. His designs, marked by their elegance and romance, have left a lasting legacy on the industry. Today, Valentino remains a symbol of Italian luxury, embodying the designer’s passion for beauty and his commitment to impeccable craftsmanship.