Fashion is a notoriously fickle business. So what accounts for the longevity of Valentino? As Mr. Giammetti points out in his book Private, the house’s lasting success has a great deal to do with the fact that he and Mr. Valentino befriended their VIP clients. “We have been in a privileged position,” he writes, “to observe the evolution of society from the days of impeccably dressed women who changed three times a day, like Audrey Hepburn, to today’s somewhat more, shall we say, casual stars like Kim Kardashian.”
Private bears witness to Mr. Valentino and Mr. Giammetti’s travels in high-end circles. Royals, celebrities, the international moneyed jetset: All are represented in the book. And in the section titled simply, “Society,” Mr. Giammetti treats readers to his observations of the shifting tastes and mores among the elite. He recalls the formality of the lavish European balls of the ‘60s, and the decadent cool of the Studio 54 scene in ‘70s-era New York. He observes the shift in the social world’s center of gravity, in the ‘90s, to Hollywood. And he comments on the highly unlikely turnabout of him and Mr. Valentino becoming celebrities themselves, after the debut of the documentary The Last Emperor in 2010. His reflections are of a very personal kind—it’s here that Mr. Giammetti talks about the death of a close friend that inspired him and Mr. Valentino to launch L.I.F.E., their foundation to combat AIDS. But even this story has a glamorous, Valentino twist: Mr. Giammetti notes that they launched the foundation with the help of Elizabeth Taylor. “My lasting memory of Elizabeth is not of a diva dripping with jewels,” he writes, “but of a woman sitting on the floor next to patients with AIDS in a hospice.”
The “Society” section of Private has no shortage of fantastic, behind-the-scenes snapshots, of course. Some of the highlights include shots from Mr. Valentino’s circus-themed birthday party at The Factory in 1978, for which he and Mr. Giammetti dressed in costumes from the Fellini film The Clowns. A collage of the doyennes, like Nan Kempner, who “taught the rest of the world how to entertain, how to set a table, what flowers and food to choose…” Photos from Iman’s wedding to David Bowie, in Florence in 1992. And pictures from Mr. Giammetti’s POP art-themed birthday party in London last year, and a selection of his favorite posts from Instagram, that bring the Valentino story right up-to-date.
“Valentino may not be designing clothes anymore,” Mr. Giammetti writes, “and I may not be running a big company, but one thing is sure; he and I will never stop living—and promoting—the Valentino way of life.”