BBC NEWS | Entertainment | Valentino stays in fashion
Which supermodel do you have the closest relationship with, your We've had discussions, we've had problems, but Mr. Giammetti was. Read the interview with Giancarlo Giammetti, on life with Valentino, His relationship with his partner is as moving as it is complicated—or so it appears Fashion is full of drama people, and [you see that] some problems are. Recognising fashion's future was in ready-to-wear, Giammetti structured a series and its relationships with some of the most iconic personalities of the past .. but that was no problem: I would sit down at my table and start to draw, and I put.
Have your drawings ever been published? No, I do it for myself. When I stopped designing, I did a big gala for the New York City Ballet where I made costumes for the ballet, and I had this huge evening where they gave a standing ovation for the clothes that I made.
Valentino – System Magazine
So I draw automatically ballet things. It was the second time, just after I stopping working, that I did the Vienna ballet. I did lots of exhibitions, everywhere, and also the documentary they made about me — do you know about this? Finally, they did lots of work and in the end when I saw the film in New York, I was not crazy about it. And the title, who chose that? No, they chose that. I was not so crazy about it, but after the first evening when we presented the documentary for the gala of the second night in Venice to a huge, huge crowd, they gave a standing ovation at the end of the film.
There is something very interesting about it; it is very Andy Warhol, this idea that everything gets documented. It is non-stop, 24 hours… I have to admit that after Venice, after Toronto and then the Metropolitan — I did lots of tours — I started to like the documentary.
Selling one couture dress 30 times is like selling 30 Basquiats in one second. It would be interesting to hear about your relationship with Giancarlo… Giancarlo was close to me, he would organise the collection, organise the layout of pictures in magazines, the fashion shows. He did a lot and gave me the possibility to work very calmly and without shocks. I was locked in my studio, drawing, and doing fittings. I try to love my clothes as much as possible. So you were free.
I am very interested in the magical moments of cities, and there was clearly a magical moment in Rome in the s because there was Fellini… This was around the time of the opening of my fashion house, my debut — I was drugged by this sort of life.
I was extremely young. You have to understand that at that moment, to be 26 and to have on your shoulders a huge fashion house with lots of workers and this and that: But I was very happy and I went on and on, and in I had a huge success and my name went around the world. Yes with the White Collection. This is an incredible moment, such an amazing one that even artists like Cy Twombly and [Robert] Rauschenberg came to Rome — what was it about the city then?
We were involved because we were very close with a lady who was the directrice of the Marlborough Gallery. We sold the first Fontana, the first sculpture of Pomodoro; we sold lots of little things and we were attracted by this. But money was not such a big drive, though I did buy some Fontana[s], some sculptures that I have today and that I am very happy to have because they touch the roof.
Why do you think that Rome was so amazing then, so magnetic? Well Rome is a beautiful city. There is also something magical with this city — all the people used to go there to watch everything, the museums — you have to understand that in Italy we have the best museums in the world, though they are not very brilliantly kept… But you were very prepared to start because you had amazing teachers and mentors; Balenciaga, Jacques Fath, Guy Laroche… Yes, but this was when I was Can you tell me what you learnt from them?
I was 15 when I arrived in Paris. When I was 18 I went to the academy for the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture, the school where I learnt to draw, and where I was in touch with all the other guys and girls doing the same job — and automatically this was a big fascination because I loved it so deeply.
He was Greek originally. I stayed working with him for five years. What did you learn from him? What I learned from him was to perfect my drawings. I learned from looking at the collections. Later on, after four years, he asked me to go to the studio privately when he was making the collections, so I breathed in the atmosphere of what to do when you do a collection. After a little while I moved to Guy Laroche, from him I learned a lot and after two years I learnt maybe everything — and thought, why not go back to Rome and open my own fashion house?
In the early s in Rome you became very famous for your red dresses, and I am interested in this because in art we talk about Klein Blue5, and with you we talk about a Valentino red… I do not want to say much about this because it is too much about me — but yes I came out with this Valentino red, and I loved it so much because I told a lady when she dressed in red that if she arrived at a party, all the people are already there will see something amazing in her.
If you do the right red it touches everybody. So it is bright shade? Yes, a very bright red, a little orangey.
If you do the right red, it touches everybody. I was there but I was not so well known at the time — they put me on the last day and at the last hour so I was quite, not sad, but quite upset. And I had huge success. They bought even though it was after The following year, they gave me the right time on the right day in the right room.
But I have to tell you, I was very lucky. So you have no regrets, there are no unrealised projects?
No, no, no, everything went well and I was extremely happy. I was somebody who was designing lots of collections — at one point I was doing ten collections per year and that was very important.
And then on the Monday I had to start work on my show, but that was no problem: I would sit down at my table and start to draw, and I put together my collection without any anguish. It was very easy and I was extremely happy. In a way your moment of international fame arrived in with the White Collection — it went completely global. Do you remember the day you came up with the White Collection?
Was there an epiphany?
The White Collection is something that came to me, and I said I had to showcase something white — I took my ideas and I said I am going to do almost the whole end of the show in just white.
And nobody was expecting to see a white collection. It was a big, big success and it was the best moment of my life.
As the artist Absalon often told me; white has very different meaning in the West than in the East. What did it mean to you? And how does red fit into that? I started them immediately afterwards… no I am wrong, red is earlier.
One of the dresses that did a tour of the world and could be worn right now, I did it in At your great 45th anniversary show you presented your most legendary dresses, and I was wondering if you could possibly talk about one or two of your favourites?
Oh my gosh, there are so many, it is very difficult… I was one of the first to start using animal print; the zebra, the leopard, the giraffe — and I have all the dresses of that moment and they are in exhibitions around the world all of the time.
They are very popular now, too. Maybe we could talk about the dresses you did for Mrs Kennedy? They were from the White Collection.
I had this almost white, creamy dress in which I was automatically thinking of Mrs Kennedy, and she bought that dress one summer in the month of September, or October. They announced what she was wearing in the press when she married [Aristotle] Onassis, and all the newspapers called to ask whether it was me who made the dress, and I said I had no idea. And I have to say that after Mrs Kennedy bought this dress, we sold the same model in the collection 30 times!
In high fashion, selling one dress 30 times is like an exhibition selling 30 Basquiats in one second. And what about Audrey Hepburn, because in interviews you often mention her? Audrey became a great friend of mine, because at a certain point she left behind all the life that she had in America when she married an Italian doctor. And she used to really draw. She was the biggest customer of Givenchy, but then she became one of the biggest customers of Valentino.
We became very good friends, she was so sweet; one of the sweetest I ever met. Oh my god, I remember off by heart what I did for her — she wore so many amazing pieces, amazing pyjamas and a beautiful organza dress all in white.
I remember everything I did for her. No, but many have been written about me.
Also, one very close friend, who marked me a lot in my life, was Elizabeth Taylor. She used to come to the chalet in Gstaad because she was up and I was down, and she would come down.
Valentino: “I am somebody with taste, of course”
Do you remember any special dresses you made for Elizabeth Taylor? Oh my god, so many. From the White Collection I made a dress with ostrich feathers which she wore for a huge, huge party for the film Spartacus.
And she had this dress with a white satin coat on top. And at a certain point — this was really at the very beginning — I said Elizabeth, no Mrs Taylor, may I have a picture taken with you? I had the new collection, and I showed her a few things and she chose the most expensive one!
Which was one it? It was a coat in brown velvet with zebra around, and a dress in pale, pale green with some embroidery. It was very expensive! So I made it for her and we became very close friends. These were my early days. So we became Elizabeth and Valentino, and she told me she was invited by the Rothschild family to a big ball in Paris, and I made the famous black dress that was photographed by [Richard] Avedon. Finally, a few years ago, there was the big sale of all her dresses and her jewellery, and that dress was sold for a very big sum of money.
Oh, my dear, I could go on until tomorrow morning! I have one more question about display, because as well as clothes you are very big on display and how to present the garments on a runway, in exhibitions and so on… I mean, we always try to make the runway appear as spectacular as possible.
At the beginning the runway was very clean with beautiful girls showing the clothes. I remember my last collection in I remember the show with the dune landscape… Ah yes, I was fighting with Giancarlo about this one, which you see in the film. How do you feel about it now? I feel I am one of the luckiest people in the world.
I did what I wanted, all of the time, with everything. At that moment I remember I used cashmere material by the yard, but now people do this less and less because the cost is so amazingly high. I never liked it. Shortly before your retirement you said a designer nowadays has to be more like a manager than a creative artist. Do you still agree? They want to make money now.
If you want to make lots of money, you try to make a product that sells everywhere. But then your productivity goes down. The products are cheap because the materials are not really expensive.
This is not my world, as you can imagine. How do you get inspired? I dream about dresses sometimes. Then I turn the light on at my night table and I draw. I'm also inspired if I go to a museum like the Hermitage in St.
Petersburg or if I visit China and see the old costumes of its national theater. I get a lot inspiration from these sorts of things, but never from a woman. I do the dress for a woman, but I don't take inspiration from them. You have great relationships with massive movie stars, Hollywood divas, and society ladies, some of whom must be inspiring in some sort of way. I have to love my collection; I have to create my own personal things for the season.
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If I like it, then movie stars and the ladies around me are also very fond of it. Open Gallery What do you think is the most beautiful dress you've ever designed? Laughs I did too many beautiful dresses, I am sorry. I am somebody with taste of course and when I don't like things in the collection I don't include them. I just want the essence of beauty.
Who is a perfect Valentino woman? A woman with taste.
This is the kind of woman I love. Which supermodel do you have the closest relationship with, your favorite one? I love many of them, but if I flash back, I have a special, special feeling for Gisele.
For me she is now the most beautiful woman in the world; first of all, she is a real super star model. I also love Claudia a lot. Another important person in your life is Giancarlo Giammetti, your longtime partner for more than 40 years. The relationship goes on and on and on, even with the greatest storm in the world. Giammetti was always very nice to me. And he gave me the possibility to work very calmly and without any bit of tremor.
I was always in my creative studio doing my design, preparing my collections without any worry at all. Who is your best friend in the fashion industry?
I maybe have a thousand Which competitor do you have the most respect for? I'm very close friends with Karl Lagerfeld. I like what he does, he has lots of talent, also guts, he is very good photographer.