Valentino Clemente Ludovico Garavani is best known as Valentino. He is an Italian fashion designer and founder of the Valentino brand and company. His main lines include Valentino, Valentino Garavani, Valentino Roma, and R.E.D. Valentino.
The well-known Italian deisgner was born in Voghera, in the province of Pavia, Lombardy, Italy. His mother named him after her screen idol – Rudolph Valentino. He became interested in fashion while in primary school in his native Voghera, Lombardy, northern Italy.
Apprenticed under his aunt Rosa and local designer Ernestina Salvadeo, an aunt of noted artist Aldo Giorgini. He moved to Paris to pursue this interest with the help of his parents. There he studied at the École des Beaux-Arts and at the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne.
His first choice for an apprenticeship, in Paris, was Jacques Fath, then Balenciaga. He found an apprenticeship with Jean Dessès where he helped Countess Jacqueline de Ribes sketch her dress ideas. He then joined Guy Laroche for two years.
At Jean Dessès, he sketched furiously, between helping with window dressing and greeting clients for the daily 2:30 pm private showings. Most of his early sketches were lost.
However, at a Rome exhibition in 1991 a smattering of them went on display and then-current clients such as Marie-Hélène de Rothschild and Elizabeth Taylor marveled that the DNA of Valentino’s style. It was already apparent in the layers of white pleats and animal prints.
After five years, he left Jean Dessès over an incident about prolonging a vacation in Saint-Tropez that still makes him uncomfortable today. Rescued by his friend Guy Laroche, he joined his “tiny, tiny” fashion house. After discussions with his parents, he decided to return to Italy and set up in Rome in 1959.