News & Runway

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Valentino

Valentino Garavani at the CHI Al Shaqab show

Image: Getty

Thanks to Valentino: The Last Emperor we know quite a bit about Valentino Garavani (and his pampered pooches!), but there’s simply no way to squeeze all the fascinating details about the designer’s life into a 96-minute documentary. Here’s a look at 10 things you probably didn’t know about the high living designer.

  1. There’s no color more associated with the designer than red and it’s a hue he always knew would be central to his work. “In the beginning I was a young guy enchanted about, to see all the lady of the evening. And I was really attracted by the bright color. And I said, ‘One day when I am going to be a designer with my own official house, I will put the red as a lucky color.'” As for black — if you ever have a meeting with the designer, avoid it. “I’m not so enchanted when I saw in this street lots of people all dressed in black.”
  2. The designer’s signature look is as unique as it appears on screen. Decca Aitkenhead of The Guardian described him as looking “like a mafia boss who has been confined under a sunbed for the past 20 years, then dressed as an Edwardian dandy, dipped upsidedown in lacquer heavily scented, and manicured and moisturized to within an inch of his life. He looks quite unlike any ordinary human being I have ever seen, and gives no impression of wishing to regard himself as one.”
  3. The designer has a sweet spot for Anne Hathaway. While he singled out Jackie Kennedy, Julia Roberts and Grace Kelly as some of the women he has been most honored to dress, if he had to pick just one, he said it would be his “daughter” Anne. “I call her my daughter; we’re so close. She asked me, ‘When I get married, I want one of your clothes.’ And I did it.”
  4. His daily routines are even more fabulous than you can imagine. When recounting his daily schedule for an article in Harper’s Bazaar, he noted that he wakes up around 10:30 a.m. every day. “I really love to sleep late. Now that I am working much less, I prefer to stay up at night, reading or watching TV, and get up later. I wear cotton pajama pants and a T-shirt to sleep. In the morning I put on a blue terry robe from Pratesi. I like to get up immediately and have my breakfast at a small folding table. My breakfast is rather simple, as are all other meals: berries and Greek yogurt and tea, and a cup of hot water with lemon. People believe I have huge, rich banquets all the time. It’s just the opposite, as I hate rich food, and I follow a rather strict regime. My room in Wideville [outside Paris] is enormous, so walking to the different places in the room is already a good morning exercise. I hate baths; instead I just take a shower. I use L’Occitane bath oil and a mild shampoo, Maple Wash, from a small Italian company, Philip Martin’s.”
  5. The designer isn’t a fan of trying to curb overly thin models from being used for runway shows. “It cannot work. You know why?” he asked in an interview published in The Guardian. “Because when you show something for the first time and you want with your creation, with your mind, to create dresses. You have not to be obliged to do something because if you do something for a bigger body you cannot express yourself like you wish, because if you want to put a little more things in one side, or something different in the other side, if the body is not like [and he runs his hands down an invisible pole] nothing, you can’t do it.” Harsh.
  6. Valentino does not like to be referred to as “Valentino,” but rather “Mr. Valentino” when he is being addressed in person. And while he may not like rich food, he’s not one for casual meals. Even when dining alone or with a few close friends, the designer dines with fine china and crisp linens, according to The Cut. It was also noted that the designer does not appreciate yelling, which he refers to as a British and American tradition. “They love hear themselves speak.”
  7. Valentino thinks things have changed for the worse since he relinquished creative control of his namesake brand. “Few people love and make beautiful clothes, clothes that are soft, smooth and elegant,” he told Vogue U.K. “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.” Fittingly, he also noted when speaking with New York magazine that he “certainly won’t miss the fashion world,” adding, “It’s ruined! Everybody’s doing the same things. What’s missing is challenge, creativity, cheerfulness. These days it’s all about numbers!”
  8. He may have disdain for the fashion industry in general, but Valentino approves of the work Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli are doing as his namesake brand’s designers. “It is wonderful what they are doing. This is how the future of Valentino can be modern,” he told The New York Times‘ Eric Wilson. His successors work out of the office that once belonged to the designer and even keep the same paintings on the walls.
  9. According to a feature in Vanity Fair, a staff of nearly 50 is employed to maintain Valentino’s 152-foot yacht and his five homes — a villa in Rome, a townhouse in London, Chalet Gifferhorn in Gstaad, a Louis XIII château near Paris and a Manhattan apartment. It’s also noted that the designer can scan a room without moving his eyes and knows where everything he owns is. 
  10. Especially in Rome, the designer is considered to be a major celebrity. He is regularly escorted by a guard as it’s almost impossible for Valentino to venture out onto the streets of Rome alone without being bothered.