When Valentino began collecting Asian objects—his first important acquisition, in 1964, was a Ming horse—he admits, “I was not a big connoisseur. But I learned.” Image: AD

Valentino Garavani: The Designer Who Defined the Golden Era of Hollywood

Elizabeth Taylor, Jacqueline Kennedy, the Queen Paola of Belgium and Princess Margaret; a handful of names unlikely to ever be mentioned together. One man, however, links this group of pop culture icons; Valentino Garavani, the legendary Italian designer. His dresses defined the golden era of Hollywood, uniting Hollywood stars, political icons, and European royalty under the one label.

His signature known as the “Valentino red” is universally admired, seen draped over the shoulders of the most glamorous women of the era. It’s no surprise the fashion icon won the Neiman Marcus Award in 1967, one of the most prestigious awards in the fashion industry. 

From gracing red carpets for decades to one of Europe’s most recognisable fashion brands, Valentino remains as prominent as ever. Here’s some interesting history about the man, the legendary fashion brand and if you’re looking for your own piece of fashion history, then here’s where to buy Valentino in Australia.

Defining an era

Born in Voghera, Italy in 1932, Valentino Garavani studied fashion design and French at the Academia dell Arte in Milan. At just 18 years old, his first job was with couturier Jean Desses in 1950 helping to design Countess Jacqueline de Ribes’s dress. It wasn’t until 1959, Valentino left, creating his own line in Rome immediately making an impression. His full-length skirts; a contrast to the mini skirts of the time, gained instant fame and his signature red dresses became widely praised, and the “Valentino red” we know today, was born.

It was after Valentino’s international debut in 1962, that his designs were considered the pinnacle of Italian couture. The fashion show established him as an era defining the brand, attracting the attention of socialites and aristocratic women from all over the world. For the first time, French Vogue dedicated its cover to an Italian designer and in 1967, he won the prestigious Neiman Marcus Fashion Award. An impressive client list followed including; Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn, Princess Margaret of England, the Begum Aga Khan, Marella Agnelli, and Princess Grace of Monaco.

Valentino’s most prominent, and likely most important client, was Jacqueline Kennedy. After admiring friends in Valentino pieces, Kennedy ordered six dresses in black and white. Far more than a client, Jackie became a friend linking the Valentino name to her own iconic status in the fashion world; even wearing a Valentino white gown at her wedding to Aristotle Onassis in 1968.

The modern age

In January 2008, Valentino retired from the luxury fashion house bearing his name, delivering his last women’s ready-to-wear show in Paris on 4 October. The entire audience, including hundreds of notable names such as Naomi Campbell, Claudia Schiffer, and Karen Mulder gave Valentino Garavani a standing ovation.

Although the man himself is no longer creative director, the Valentino brand is still gracing red carpets to this day. A true testament to his legacy, the likes of Megan Markle, Kate Hudson, and Jennifer Aniston have made their own iconic statements in his ensembles.

Valentino Australia

Valentino expanded into Australia in 2016 with the opening of a brand new flagship in Melbourne. Sitting pretty in the Victorian capital, you can find the store in Chadstone shopping centre. Located in the heart of the luxury mall, the debut Valentino Australia store is where to buy Valentino in Australia. A unique blend of antique and contemporary style, it provides something of a palace atmosphere. The store covers 370 square metres and carries both womenswear and menswear product categories across ready-to-wear, accessories and fragrances.

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