The Italian Almanac

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Valentino Garavani

The Last Emperor

Italian fashion icon Valentino told reporters he missed his work but had no regrets about his decision to retire. "I miss the daily routine, being in the atelier but the high fashion world has been hard hit by the crisis and no one makes those expensive clothes any more," said the 77-year-old designer, who dressed the world's most glamourous women in his 45-year career. "I wouldn't be able to express my creativity any longer. Yes, I miss it but I'm also glad not to caught in this (economic) crisis".

Valentino was in Rome to take part in the Italian premiere of The Last Emperor, a documentary on his life by American Vanity Fair reporter Matt Tyrnauer. Valentino has called the documentary his ''authorised biography,'' saying that it contained ''all of me, with great sincerity...the moments of rage, anger, annoyance, the funny times: it's me, absolutely natural''.

Valentino, whose full name is Valentino Garavani, was born in the industrial town of Voghera north of Milan on May 11, 1932. At 17 he moved to Paris to study at the Ecole des Beaux Arts and apprenticed with Jean Desses and Guy Laroche before opening an atelier in Rome. He quickly earned a celebrity following and joined forces with Giancarlo Giammetti, at the time an architecture student, who became his lifelong companion as well as the financial brain behind his world-wide expansion.

Valentino's most famous clients - often opting for trademark red creations - included Princess Grace of Monaco, Princess Diana, Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn and Sophia Loren. Jacqueline Kennedy wore Valentino when she married Aristotle Onassis in 1968.