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With the 2016 Olympics kicking off, all eyes are on Rio. The city has long been a destination for fun in the sun—whether people-watching beautiful Brazilians in their skimpy swimwear on Copacabana beach, or joining the two million or so folks dancing in the street at Carnavale. The Summer Games are just one more excuse to pay a visit to the Cidade Maravilhosa, or "The Marvelous City," as it's known. It's a town that Mr. Valentino knows very well.


It was on a trip to Rio de Janeiro that Mr. Valentino met one of his lifetime VIPs. He and Carlos Souza were making the scene at the same Rio nightclub in 1973, and their introduction that evening led to Souza becoming a fixture in the Valentino world—model, friend, PR honcho, now global brand ambassador—and to Mr. Valentino taking numerous trips to Brazil to visit with his unofficial extended family. Souza's ex-wife, Charlene Shorto, is another Brazilian member of the Valentino "tribe," and their two sons, Sean and Anthony, are Mr. Valentino's godsons.


Mr. Valentino's romance with Brazil came in handy when he was called upon to create one his most iconic gowns: The dress that Marisa Berenson wore to her wedding to James Randall in 1976. The simple, off-the-shoulder frock, trimmed lavishly in wide-eyelet lace, was inspired by the carefree Rio look and lifestyle—and it suited the vibe of the shambolic Berenson/Randall nuptials to a T. Mr. Valentino himself ironed the dress for Berenson before she went out and wowed a crowd that included Liza Minnelli, Jacqueline de Ribes and Andy Warhol. A little Carnavale, by way of Beverly Hills. Pra caramba, as they say in Brazil…


Photos from Private: Giancarlo Giammetti and Carlos's Places

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