Valentino is a renowned Italian fashion house started by designer Valentino Garavani in 1959 in Venice.
After a decade spent studying fashion design and working for various couturiers in Paris, Valentino returned to his native Italy. In 1960 he met Giancarlo Giammetti who would become his partner in business and in life (the couple are still together after 50 years).
By the mid-sixties Valentino was already counting Elizabeth Taylor and Jackie Kennedy (who wore his design for her 1968 wedding to Aristotle Onassis) among his high-profile clients. Valentino continues to appeal to the celebrity crowd, with Julia Roberts' vintage Valentino Oscar dress in 2001 universally lauded as one of the most iconic of all time.
He became famous for his signature "Valentino red" hue, feminine aesthetic and exquisite romantic dresses with signature flourishes of lace and ruffles and by 1970, had launched menswear, ready-to-wear, furs and accessories.
The designer has very many awards under his belt: in 1986 he was honoured with Italy's highest accolade, the Cavaliere di Gran Croce; in 2000 with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the CFDA ; and in 2006 with France's Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur.
He has a clear sense of humour, appearing in a cameo role of The Devil Wears Prada alongside Glenn Close and Anne Hathaway.
In 2008, after a grand retrospective celebration of 45 years in fashion in Rome, the designer announced his retirement. Pierpaolo Piccioli and Maria Grazia Chiuri took over as Creative Directors and continue to bring the label's feminine aesthetic to a new generation.
In 2011 the Valentino Garavanti Virtual Museum was launched, a 50-year archive using 3D techonology including sketches, illustrations and over 180 fashion show videos.
By Brogan Driscoll & Jen Barton