Ellis M. Goodman, author of Bear Any Burden:, has written a powerful, insightful review of the recently release documentary on Valentino.
For 45 years, Valentino created fantastic Haute Couture gowns for the most glamorous and famous women in the world. He tells us that his fascination with the 1930’s and 40’s American screen goddesses inspired him to create beautifully designed hand-stitched gowns, using the most luxurious materials draped around long-legged models, who showed off “the collection” to perfection.
Apart from watching Valentino’s incredible lifestyle with his lavish homes in France and Italy and his giant yacht sailing around the Mediterranean, we also see “behind the scenes” that Valentino is an extremely talented and creative individual, who shrewdly positioned himself at the top end of the market and maintained a reputation as one of the leading designers in the world for many decades.
It was also interesting to learn of his personal partnership with Giancarlo Giammetti, with whom he shared his life and his business relationship since 1960.Clearly, it was Mr. Giammetti who had the business acumen to build Valentino’s fashion empire, ultimately valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars. As the movie progressed, we learned that the Haute Couture end of the business was not the profit earner.However, it created the brand on which the rest of the business empire was founded, and resulted in vast licensing fees and income from everything from accessories to perfume.
In 1998, an Italian business conglomerate bought 25% of the Valentino business, and subsequently built that position into a controlling interest. In 2007, those interests were bought by another conglomerate which owns many of the internationally known-fashion brand names.
We see Valentino’s extraordinary three-day extravaganza commemorating his 45th anniversary in fashion, attended by most of the world’s rich and famous – celebrities and stars galore – at a black-tie ball at the Villa Borghese and at the Temple of Venus overlooking the Coliseum in Rome. This celebration proved to be timely, because two months after the sale of his empire and the execution of his final Couture show, he officially retired.What timing!
Given the major global recession, which has included major declines in sales of the leading fashion brands, the new owners of the Valentino Empire must be feeling very sorry for themselves.
However, Valentino and his partner, Giancarlo, can sail off into the sunset, immaculately dressed, coiffured and tanned and probably laughing all the way to the bank.
A movie built around beautiful women, exquisitely designed clothing, and an imperial lifestyle which will probably never return, is just the sort of escapism that we need in this day and age.