There are some episodes of your life that you never grow tired of re-living. You just have to close your eyes and let your imagination run away … I’m in Rome, driving my scooter while totally lost in my teenager thoughts when all of a sudden a patch of bright red catches my attention. Hundreds of curious people fill the sidewalk in front of the Ara Pacis Museum, so I stop to see what’s happening. Taking a closer look, I realize this isn’t a classical exhibit. Instead, I see an elegant army of mannequins dressed in magnificent red gowns. This splash of color isn’t just any red, it’s a red I’ve seen before that lets me know I am witnessing something special. On the wall is a huge sign: “Valentino, 45 Years of Creativity and Style.”
Only a few years after opening his first studio in Via Condotti, Rome in 1959, Valentino Garavani was already at the height of success. Not only could he count Elizabeth Taylor, Jackie Kennedy and Audrey Hepburn among his admirers, but he had already given up his last name to become known as simply Valentino.
In the same way, when you say “rosso Valentino” the Italian designer’s name is enough for people to immediately know what kind of red you are talking about. Pretty much everyone is able to connect that expression to a bright red similar to crimson, but made richer and deeper by a touch of purple. It’s a specific tone of red that transmits passion, luxury, love, sensuality, strength and elegance.
With his distinctive red shade Valentino gave a touch of color to magazines and runways making people dream with his unique creations. Every Valentino dress speaks to the passion and sensibility of its creator, a man capable of making every woman feel unique and elegant in her daily life as well as on special occasions.
In celebration of the 45th anniversary of Valentino’s career, 300 dresses and rare archival materials were exhibited in the Ara Pacis Museum in Rome. As a place that is the perfect synthesis of classicism and modernity, the museum was the ideal place to display the work of a couturier who, more than anyone else, was able to combine an ageless ideal of beauty with the constantly evolving seasons and trends of the fashion world.