The Italian Almanac

Valentino

italian News / Fashion - July 15

Italian fashion icon Valentino on Thursday received France's most prestigious award, becoming a member of the Legion d'Honneur.

The 72-year-old designer whose celebrity clients have become known as Val's Gals was said to be "delighted" with the honor, announced on Bastille Day. Valentino, whose full name is Valentino Garavani, was born in the industrial town of Voghera north of Milan on May 11, 1932. From an early age he showed a passion for art and design and at 17 moved to Paris to study at the Ecole des Beaux Arts.

His apprentice jobs included working with the fashion houses of Jean Desses and Guy Laroche. In 1960 he opened an atelier in Rome's chic Via Condotti and made a name for himself among the Hollywood stars who flocked to the Italian capital in its Dolce Vita heyday. It was at this time that people started calling him the Golden Boy of Italian couture.