After five years with Desses, and a brief time with Guy Laroche, in which his couture sketches became the foundation of his eponymous look, Valentino returned to Rome, Italy to set up his own label, bringing with him the grandeur that established for him the reputation of what Italians call “Dolce Vita” – Sweet Life.
When Valentino showed his first collection at the Pitti Palace in Florence for the first time in 1962, the acclaim instantly annointed him the go-to Couturier for the glitterati. In 1967, he was awarded the prestigious Neiman Marcus Award for his infamous “No-color Collection” in which he rebuked the trend for decadent color palettes, opting instead for hues of beige, white and ivory. This collection launched his signature “V” trademark. In the same year, he designed the dress that Jackie Kennedy wore to marry Aristotle Onassis - both events that crystalized the fame that turned his business into an international fashion powerhouse, dressing Hollywood superstars from Gwyneth Paltrow to Cate Blanchett, Julia Roberts and Elizabeth Taylor to Anne Hathaway.
When interviewed by the Telegraph, Valentino said this about his early inspirations: "I was always inspired by seeing glamorous American movie stars in clothes by the costume designer Edith Head…and when I was working with Jean Desses and Guy Laroche in Paris I was influenced by French couture and the luxurious lives of French women."
"A dress that reveals a woman's ankles while she is walking is the most disgusting thing I have ever seen," Valentino once told The Daily Mail. In an interview in November of 2012 with Vogue UK, Valentino noted that times have changed since he first started his career. "Few people love and make beautiful clothes, clothes that are soft, smooth and elegant," he said. "And very few designers today design - it's very important to be able to do your own sketch on paper and then explain [your vision] to the fabric cutters. Instead, lots of designers drape - it's the new way."
UK blogger David Downton described Valentino: "My first couture experience was drawing Valentino fittings at The Ritz in Paris - it was like entering Narnia. He is the last of the old-school couturiers. Lightness of touch, rigorous discipline and an unfailing glamour aesthetic are his hallmarks.” And, on the subject of Valentino’s use of his signature color - red: "There is cardinal red and rose red. Come-to-bed red and go-to-hell red. But when it comes to a red dress, there is really only Valentino. As someone once said, Valentino invented red."
Despite having retired from designing for the Valentino label, Valentino still works on special commissions, recently designing the bridal gown worn by Princess Madeleine of Sweden for her royal nuptials in June 2013, a fact that has kept him in the hearts and minds of devotees of Bridal fashion. Valentino has embraced Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli, the current co-designers of his famed label for the past five years, on their runway shows. The pair continue to successfully steer the Valentino ship season after season, carrying-on the magnificent, spirit-lifting collections which have come to symbolize couture in its truest sense while walking the line between feminine, light and intricate designs that remain modern and compelling for today’s women.
Each and every dress on the runway offers different fabrics and techniques, yet the concept of gowns constructed through piping details and lace, with silhouettes that we have come to know and love from Valentino – "demure, nipped-in waists and splaying skirts, necklines either cut straight across or high in Tudor proportion, Stoles, Capes and Shawls fluttering across dresses of distinct shape….with bold lines of red and black and cream that bring the body’s figure to life – remain. Gowns in white look like they had been adorned in wedding icing - both elegant and pristine. Gowns breath-takingly made up of 450 metres of tulle, with swaying skirts that fold back on one another to create undulating fairy-tale hems. Lines that are neither strict nor severe, always lending the sense of romantic femininity that is neither too sweet nor too austere"…remaining quintessential Valentino.
View White Stole’s entire collection for size color ranges of Stoles, Stole Wraps, Vintage Stoles, Stole Capes and Shawls for purchase, or rental, on our website.