We break down one of the world’s most sought-after designer houses, from the founding father of Italian haute couture’s lavish lifestyle to SS17’s refreshed camouflage prints.
The man, the myth, the legend. Mr. Valentino Garavani, AKA the Italian king of couture, was born in the early ‘30s in a relatively remote corner of Northern Italy. Named after a silent movie star, he studied in Rome, and moved to Paris as a young man where he honed his skills at the Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne. Renowned for his opulent lifestyle and obsession with beauty, he’s dressed most of the world’s most beautiful women, and his name is synonymous with glittering socialites, Hollywood glamour and the wives of very rich men. No one wears a crisp white shirt or black jacket quite like he does. Serious points for blowing an estimated five million on a 30th anniversary party, being best friends with Elizabeth Taylor, having an office in a six storey, seventeenth-century Roman palazzo, a 152-ft yacht and homes in Knightsbridge, New York, Capri and Gstaad . . . the list goes on. Valentino, we salute you, and your perma-tan.
Valentino retired from the spotlight in 2008, and design duo Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli, who had been busy working on a fresh perspective for the brand’s accessories line, took the helm, driving the brand into the future whilst retaining its core DNA. Cue the Valentino Rockstud. Toughened gold pyramids on trainers? Silver studded dress shoes? No one had ever seen anything like it before. The juxtaposition of essentially couture accessories and metal hardware had us all craving a pair of Rockrunner trainers.
In one of their final collections together, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli reimagined Valentino’s signature camouflage, introducing appliqué patches, metal eyelets and a ubiquitous star print. The collection, with military precision, was a uniform of familiar pieces with un-expectedly dishevelled details. Inspired by MOMA’s exhibition ‘Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible’, clothes were left deliberately incomplete, with deconstructed shirts and trailing hems contrasting starkly with the impeccable tailoring and polished accessories synonymous with the brand. A triumphantly roaring panther, taken from a 1967 Valentino silk dress, adorned the shoulders of sweaters, jumpers and jackets. Regal and threatening in equal measure, you wouldn’t be inclined to mess with a man wearing Valentino.