During the fabulous Vogue Festival, we were lucky enough to be invited to listen to super successful Italian fashion designer (and keen gardener – watch out Alan Titchmarsh!) Valentino Garavani speak to British Vogue editor Alexandra Schulman about his life, loves and pugs. You may have heard of him as he’s kind of a big deal. He’s even got a day named after him!
Valentino charmed us from the start with an apology for his strong Italian accent and an earnest fondness for London. “To me, London is the capital of the world. I live here for four to five months of the year. London men are very well dressed, whereas in Italy, the men dress all in black. Like a cockroach!”, he joked, betraying a certain distaste for our insect friends. It seems Valentino is more of a pug guy, owning an impressive five, two of which travel with him everywhere he goes. He didn’t choose the pug life, the pug life chose him.
He started to draw, aged 14, in his school workbook, and by the time he was 17 he had a collection of over 50 drawings. After much haggling and cajoling, the precocious Valentino convinced his parents to send him to Paris to perfect his craft. He explained how he wished to “learn how to make everybody beautiful by using little tricks of the trade…like raising bosoms!”. His admiration for the the female form was particularly evident, as was his support for the notion that a woman should be free to be as elegant as she can. As he says, “A dress should live on a woman’s body, not just sit on it”. Hopefully he hasn’t seen any of our early blog photographs!
During a Q&A session he was asked how he feels about famous people wearing his designs. Referencing his love of the cinema, he told the crowd that he found it “very satisfying to see celebrities such as Drew Barrymore wearing Valentino for big events like the Oscars”. Fancy loaning us a few pieces Val?
The captivating conversation came to a close with some simple, yet heartening and inspiring advice from the man himself – “Believe in what you are, try to be optimistic and to be happy”. If it’s good enough for him, it’s good enough for us.