Valentino Garavani is perhaps the only Italian as well known as Agnelli, it has been said. He is immodest and somewhat aggressive, a born autocrat who demands everything and forgives nothing. He is also an optimist, and passionate about work, life, and people, possessing in spades what can only be called “star quality”.


Valentino flunked out his sophomore year in high school, and devoted the summer to designing dresses rather than studying. His parents encouraged him to study fashion and French, and sent him off to Paris to stay with family friends. He landed a series of jobs, from illustrator to dresser to salesman, until he finally made his way back to Milan. His first show at the Pitti Palace in Florence was a huge success with American buyers, and he has never looked back.


His client list defines his style better than words: Gloria Guiness, Audrey Hepburn, Consuelo Crespi. Jackie Onassis chose him to design her wedding dress, a turning point in his career. Along with his business partner Giancarlo Giammetti, Valentino has expanded his operations to the four corners of the globe. He abhors masculine looks for women, saying “I love femininity, I’ve always designed glamorous, flattering and becoming dresses that appeal to women and their husbands.”