There’s no question that Valentino is the embodiment of Italian haute couture. Valentino Clemente Ludovico Garavani founded the company in 1960 with his partner Giancarlo Giammetti. They started with simple, elegant designs using solid colours such as white, black and the infamous poppy "Valentino red". He then began to develop more grandiose evening dresses made from delicate fabrics that outlined slim silhouettes, finished with high quality fur or embroidered with beads and sequins. This style became the epitome of opulence and was sought after by Hollywood stars, princesses and celebrities alike. Valentino's A-List clientele began with Elizabeth Taylor, before garnering popularity among the likes of Eva Longoria, Leighton Meester, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Alba, Jennifer Love Hewitt and Katherine Heigl.
Designing precision-perfect dresses isn’t Valentino’s only forte; his pink and pistachio textured leather handbags, along with vibrant totes, chic shoulder bags and elegant clutches are feminine, pastel-hued takes on his classic ‘Rock Stud’ clutch, and are some of the most coveted accessories of the season. Under the creative directorship of Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli, Valentino exemplifies the extraordinary craftsmanship of haute couture, but unlike many other designers, the house has always insisted on an accompanying range of daywear. Wool crepe two-piece skirt suits with belts knotted casually behind the back, white cashmere trench coats trimmed with satin, and 1950s silk chiffon tea dresses in floral prints with elbow length gloves are all part of his illustrious collection. While the Italian couturier may have retired from the catwalk in 2008, his legacy lives on as galleries celebrate his craftsmanship with exhibitions of his work.