Valentino Garavani

Photo by Patrick Demarchelier

Award of Inspiration

Valentino Garavani, often known simply as Valentino, is a legendary fashion designer and master couturier. He founded his eponymous fashion house in Rome in the late 1950s and has since established an illustrious career designing for the world’s most glamorous women, from royalty to Hollywood icons, including Jackie O, Elizabeth Taylor, and modern-day muses like Gwyneth Paltrow and Anne Hathaway.

From his start designing dresses, Valentino and long-time business partner Giancarlo Giammetti built the Valentino brand into an international empire, now one of the most iconic fashion brands in the world, often associated with his signature color, “Valentino Red.” Throughout his career Valentino has been awarded the highest honors for his achievements, including Italy’s Cavaliere di Gran Croce and France’s Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur, in addition to numerous awards in the fashion industry.

In 1998, Valentino and Giancarlo Giammetti sold the Valentino company to HpD, an Italian luxury conglomerate, though Mr. Valentino continued in his role of Creative Director. Several years later, in 2007, Valentino staged a three-day fashion extravaganza in Rome celebrating the 45th anniversary of Valentino’s career, which included an exhibit at Ara Pacis, gala dinner at the Temple of Venus, and haute couture fashion show staged at Santo Spirito in Sassia complex.

On the heels of this epic celebration, in 2008 Valentino took his final bow at his haute couture show and officially retired from his career in fashion, though he continues to create and follow his passions. Shortly after his retirement, a feature-length documentary Valentino: The Last Emperor was released, and once again thrust the “maestro” onto the world stage, solidifying his status as an international icon. In late 2011, Mr. Valentino and Mr. Giammetti launched the Valentino Garavani Virtual Museum, a website and downloadable desktop application that makes Valentino’s unrivalled archive available to be studied and experienced online. In September 2012, Mr. Valentino was honored by the New York City Ballet and designed costumes for their Fall Gala. Later that year, in November 2012, an exhibition titled Valentino: Master of Couture opened at London’s Somerset House.