Valentino and The Movies
Valentino has had a long love affair with the silver screen. As a young boy growing up in Voghera, Italy he would escape to the cinema and immerse himself in the on-screen glamour. “For me, a young guy of 13, to see this sort of beauty—I think from that moment I decide I want to create clothes for ladies,” he said of seeing Ziegfeld Girls in the 1940s.
By the time he arrived in Rome in the 1960s to establish his own atelier, after being trained in the art of haute couture by the Parisian masters in the late 1950s, it was the height of La Dolce Vita. In a stroke of fate fit for the films, Valentino met architecture student Giancarlo Giammetti at a café on Via Veneto, and with their combined creative and business abilities the two quickly established the Valentino company and enjoyed living the “sweet life” themselves.
During this time Rome was the home of Cinecittà, Italian for cinema city, boasting its screen sirens like Sophia Loren, and Hollywood had a foothold in the city as well. Elizabeth Taylor, fresh off the shooting of 1963’s Cleopatra, and Audrey Hepburn, had both become friends, muses and clients of Valentino often photographed in his designs.
As Valentino continued to build his business and personal iconic status in his native Italy (it has been said he revivals the Pope in popularity) his designs became their own celebrities on the red carpet. Perhaps most famously, Julia Roberts wore a vintage Valentino design when she won the Oscar for Best Actress in 2001. Throughout the years actresses including Cate Blanchett, Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Lopez, Sharon Stone, Claire Danes, Gwyneth Paltrow and countless others have had Hollywood moments draped in Valentino’s gorgeous designs.
In the mid 2000s, after playing the role of fashion’s leading man for nearly fifty years, Valentino stepped in front of the camera. In 2006, the legendary designer played himself in The Devil Wears Prada where he first met his modern-day muse, Anne Hathaway. Two years later, Valentino and Giancarlo Giammetti starred in the critic and box office documentary success Valentino: The Last Emperor, a film that follows the 45th Anniversary of the Valentino company and preparation for a lavish 3-day celebration in Rome. It was with this film that Valentino solidified an international icon status typically reserved for movie stars.
In 2011, when Anne Hathaway hosted the Academy Awards, she wore a gown by Valentino and she and the designer walked the red carpet arm-in-arm. He later designed the now Oscar-winner’s wedding dress for her marriage to Adam Shulman in 2012.
Both Valentino and Giancarlo Giammetti attended the 2013 Oscars and continue to feed their love of film and red carpet glamour.