Valentino Garavani & model Natalia Vodianova photographed by Kevin Tachman 2011. She is wearing a couture piece created by the designer in retirement who both hosted a charity ball for The Naked Heart Foundation in 2011.
In terms of Italian fashion designers and houses on a global scale, there are many geniuses who have come and gone, contributing some of the most bedazzling body of work to our social history of dress and contemporary popular culture. Who can forget the architectural tendencies of Gianfranco Ferre who forever changed the scope in which we reach for that vital staple of our wardrobes which through his hands escaped the damaging effects of time: The white shirt? Disregard the renaissance of grand mythological motifs from the Greco-Roman age of antiquity interpreted on the sensually draped yet tastefully ostentatious work of Gianni Versace worn by goddesses that were the supermodels during his age of influence in the 1990's? Leave out from history the borderline hallucinogenic nature of Emilo Pucci's silk prints that enchant all those who gaze upon them to a state of illumination from the era of the baby boomer's youth-quake? Or ignore the compelling masculine-feminine ratios of Giorgio Armani's power suits that demanded attention in boardrooms to all professional women in command who dare wore them? The list can go on to an indefinite degree, but defensibly, the Italian fashion brand who double-handedly understood the nature of beauty, while marketing a power house to become an internationally known name by achieving the association with a just one particular color, was a feat envious to all who seek to conquer such a position of influence. An accomplishment undoubtedly credited to "the last emperor" Valentino Garavani and his gloriously personified right hand, Giancarlo Giametti.
Valentino and model Christy Turlington wearing the final look of the Roman couturier's fall/winter 1991 RTW collection presented in paris
What's in a color? For a hue in any other shade or tone would appear just as sweet? The use of color in marketing the ruthless, musical chair game of our modern fashion industry for the purpose of immediate recognition, is the very key that galvanizes the portfolio of one's brand equity, that will ensure the name associated with it will have an ever lasting impression not too different to the above altered quote by William Shakespeare; for even in a butchered format, the centuries-old quip is as relevant to his work and legacy as the sun's rays to the earth's photosynthesis. This relevancy in the world of luxury marketing rewarded to just a sacredly minute quantity of brands is the crucial asset that all inferior competitors desire deeply. For what is Tiffany & Co without their iconic blue or Hermes of Paris without their quintessential orange to wrap their enticing products with, creating an atmosphere of pure trembling zeal with just one look at the packaging? The fact that Valentino was to be forever connected with red garnered him and his house this pedestal of a privilege that no other women's wear designer has ever ventured before, to his extent on an international scale and have it remain so till this day.
The young Valentino overlooking the various pieces from his debut spring/summer 1959 Alta Moda Collection as he handles the "Fiesta" model.
The birth of this union between Mr. Garavani and the color of passion, has musically oriented roots that are tied to his love of the performing arts, in particular, the resonating field of Opera. This affection was instilled within him since the very day he was fortunately introduced to the art form at the tender age of 13 when accompanied by his father to his first production of Verdi's La Traviata in 1945. In a small matter of time, as a student, he took holiday in Barcelona and attended a fateful, yet delightfully unforgettable evening at the Opera to witness the interpretation of red in a production of George Bizet's Carmen that will forever emblazon his creative mind. "All the costumes on the stage were red... All the women in the boxes were mostly dressed in red, and they leaned forward like geraniums on balconies, and the seats and drapes were red too... I realized that after black and white, there was no finer color" as he was quoted in his later years when reminiscing about this profound impact. From then on, red in his world would receive the "green light".
"Fiesta" from Spring/Summer 1959 presented alongside another model from the debut collection. As feautured in the Rizzoli publication: Valentino Retrospective Past, Present, and Future
His first successful attempt of masterfully executing the color was in a dress with a romantically draped silk tulle confection of post war New Look proportions, appropriately named "Fiesta" from his spring summer 1959 Alta Moda collection. This dress was a formidable example of his past, present and future, from using the Spanish term for "party" to shed light on that high-note of a night in Barcelona, the distinctly unique form of draping tulle which undoubtedly is accredited to his first hand experience of Parisian haute couture training through apprenticeship at Jean Desses and later Guy Laroche (who actually was Jean Desses' premier illustrator prior and brought the young Valentino to work with him when he opened his own house in 1957), to the act of debuting this distinct aesthetic with whimsically youthful proportions at his first collection in Rome, lastly to the foreshadowing of not just red itself, but the three dimensional appliques of roses using the external manipulation of the fabric, which his devoted fans and clients will see not only in the future forms of haute couture and ready to wear, but in the eventually successful sell through sector of leather goods and shoes.
While it is marvelous to admire Valentino's various themes of red worn in the iconic example of evening wear and ball gowns by illustrious women such as Jacqueline Onassis, Elizabeth Taylor, Julia Roberts, Elizabeth Hurley, and Penelope Cruz, it is perhaps more charmingly practical to incorporate it, not in only in a sustainable pre-loved way, but in a category of wardrobe that is essential and relevant to our daily lives: A handbag. A little something that will come in handy to break the ice or be the life of your party in your evening. In these two unique offerings exclusively sourced by Decades Inc, it is a precious representation of the wonderful, eternal marriage between Red and Maison Valentino.
Valentino Resin "Bakelite" Mini Bag C. Late 70's. $195
The above creation, is a poster child of being a not so distant relative of the micro mini bag craze, created by Valentino most likely during the sleek disco era days of the late 1970's. The lightweight strain resistant resin body, in combination with the wonderful detail of the Swarovski crystal and contrasting abstract floral inlays provide the most unique example of a novelty mini bag, that will definitely stand out in a sea of Jacquemus Chiquito bags with the Lilliput proportions!
Valentino Night Crystal Ring Bag C. 1980's. $325
As we regain the perhaps previously taken for granted pleasure of dining in as the country gradually and responsibly opens up, it is important to remember just because we must physically distance ourselves in our beloved social settings, there are other means to provide a visual gravitational pull with just our eyes... This vintage red raffia number by Valentino Night from the 80's would sure do the trick. Its unique juxtaposition of having a humble composition yet rustic demeanor of delicately woven straw to glamorously include an appliqued golden ring of hand set Swarovski crystals is the perfect yin and yang to carry your essentials while multitasking the necessity to remain safe and chicly noticeable from afar.
Shop both bags now by clicking the above hyperlinked photos!
Available only at Decades Inc.