The Style Guide to Valentino Clemente Ludovico Garavani

Valentino, designer in a screenshot from the fashion documentary Valentino: The Last Emperor
Valentino, designer in a screenshot from the fashion documentary Valentino: The Last Emperor
Photo of India Doyle
5 January 2017

Fabulous (we imagine) since his birth in 1932, Valentino Clemente Ludovico Garavani is a fashion legend, known as much for his celebration of romantic femininity as he is for his five pugs and flawless tan. For those who aren’t as intimate as they should be with the legendary Italian designer, Culture Trip has put together a need-to-know guide to Valentino.

How to identify a Valentino design


Few designers can lay claim to a colour in the way Valentino can. Entitled ‘Valentino Rosso’ the iconic hue is said to be comprised of a combination of 100 per cent magenta, 100 per cent yellow and ten per cent black. The red is most famously used in his couture dresses, has been present since his first collection.” Red is a colour that is not shy” the designer told Marie Clare, adding that it was inspired by a visit to the opera when he was younger. “The whole set was red – the flowers, the costumes — and l said to myself, “I want to keep this colour in my life.”

1990 at a fitting the studio in Palazzo Mignanelli, Rome. Shot by Snowdon. #TBT

A photo posted by Valentino Garavani (@realmrvalentino) on


Valentino is a loquacious character who extols beauty whenever he can. As such, his designs regularly draw upon romantic ideas of femininity: sparkles, frills, silk, and layers of delicate lace that speak to old school notions of elegance. His couture dresses contain drama, power and mystery. Whether it’s a gathered waist, an effervescent drape or bold animal print combinations, if you see someone that looks like they’ve escaped from your wildest dreams, she’s probably wearing Valentino.

Evening dress

It’s difficult to overstate Valentino’s influence on the dress. Whereas other designers may dabble in the silhouette, Valentino is unafraid of showing entire collections comprised of different variations. Couture gowns are his forte, and are easily recognisable for their delicate swing around the body. The designer understood the way a material moves, and whether he worked with tiered lace or ornate brocade, used the evening dress as his seductive medium of choice.

Valentino biography: your questions answered

Where was Valentino born? In Voghera, Italy, on May 11, 1932.

What is the history of Valentino, the brand? Having worked for French designers Jean Dessès and Guy Laroche, Valentino founded his own label in 1960. The brand was started with his business – and briefly romantic – partner Giancarlo Giammetti. In spite of financial uncertainty, the brand has since grown into a billion dollar business, with diffusion lines, licensing deals and stores across the globe. “Probably the best decision was to keep our own identity and not to follow trends and suggestions. It’s not an operational decision but I think it’s the basis of our success.” Giammetti told The New York Times. You can watch the whole of Valentino: The Last Emperor here.

Who are Valentino’s most famous friends? Amongst his fabulous crew, Valentino lists Gwyneth Paltrow – who collaborated with the brand last year – and Kim and Kanye West, for whom he threw a lavish party the day before their wedding.

What is the biggest party that Valentino has ever thrown? Arguably Valentino’s most epic bash was thrown in 2007 to celebrate 45 years of the brand. With the help of a 1,400 person team, the fiesta took place over 3 days in Rome, and included a major exhibition, a dinner in the Temple of Venus and a huge party at the Villa Borghese.

What awards does Valentino have? Amongst his accolades, Valentino boasts the Chevalier de la Legion d’honneur and the Couture Council Award for Artistry of Fashion.

Who is Valentino, the brand, owned by today? Since 2012, Valentino is owned by Mayhoola for Investments S.P.C. The CEO of Valentino is Stefano Sassi, who began working there in 2006.

Quotes by Valentino that you should know

Traveling with Mary and Moon. #regram @privategg

A photo posted by Valentino Garavani (@realmrvalentino) on

I know what women want. They want to be beautiful.

I didn’t like the ’80s at all; it was a vulgar moment of fashion.

Only wear clothes that make you feel alive.

My normal life is like being on holiday.

It is a big problem and so I don’t know for sure if I say yes or no to Ferrari.

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