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Giancarlo Giammetti got his first camera when he was twenty-five years old. By the time he started work on Private, the memoir-in-photographs he published in 2013, he had amassed more than 57,000 images. In celebration of Mr. Giammetti's birthday on February 5th, we're devoting this space to a look back at Private. Here, we present an excerpt from the book's second section, "Work," which gets at the blood, sweat and tears that went into the creation of the magical world of Valentino.


"In a nutshell, my life's work has been allowing Valentino the freedom to be Valentino," writes Mr. Giammetti in the introduction to Chapter 3 of Private, titled "Work." As he goes on to note, letting Valentino be Valentino is "more complicated than it sounds." Designing collections is one thing; building a fashion brand is another. And though Mr. Giammetti was always happy to give Mr. Valentino the spotlight, the work behind-the-scenes was just as crucial to the enduring success of the maison.


"Someone has to oversee the runway shows, advertising strategies, store designs, financial plans, and media outreach," Mr. Giammetti points out. "Not to mention deal with all the unexpected disasters, big and small." Mr. Giammetti didn't automatically assume that role; as he told his dear friend Anne Hathaway in a conversation published in Interview, it was when Mr. Giammetti "discovered [Mr. Valentino's] limitations" that he took over the business side of the brand. "The company was growing and somebody had to do it," he recalled to Hathaway. "So little by little [Mr. Valentino] felt free to just do what he wanted, and I was the rest."


Together, working side by side, Mr. Valentino and Mr. Giammetti created the world of Valentino—a world of incomparable glamour. And as is clear in Private, they've well enjoyed the fruits of their success. But Mr. Giammetti won't pretend that making that magic was easy as it looked. As he writes in Private, "to make the fun possible, I've had to deal with tremendous anxiety and many sleepless nights. “Thankfully," he adds, "there are no photographs of that."

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