Andrea Blanch: Valentino went from a modest fashion house to one of the most important names in fashion. What do you think it is about Valentino’s aesthetic and style that made it such an enormous success?Giancarlo Giammetti: It’s his vision that he never rejected. The one that wants to make a woman more beautiful than she already is.
AB: What set Valentino apart from other fashion houses, aesthetically and in business model? What was your business plan and philosophy for the house? GG: It’s about romance and beauty. And it's about creating an entire life style.
AB: You were originally studying architecture in Rome before you met Valentino. Did architecture and industrial design shape the way the house progressed? GG: No, I was not a great student. I had to learn everything in fashion and sometimes invent a few things.
AB: You were one of the first to conceive of having large advertising spreads in style magazines, something which has now become a staple of the industry. How did you conceive of the first “grouppage”? How was this received when you first pitched it to magazines? GG: It was an instant success. Every designer followed, the groupages became larger and larger, creating a competition between the houses.
AB: Italian style is unique from the French and American. What is it about Italy and the Italian mindset that make the Houses unique? GG: Sex appeal. There is always an element of sex appeal in Italian clothes, men's or women's, that is often missed in other fashion captials.
AB: Let’s talk about red, red is our Editor in Chief’s favorite color as well as the signature color of Valentino. Can you talk about the significance of this color for you, for the brand and for fashion? GG: It all started with red, Valentino was fascinated by it when he was a very young assistant designer in Paris.. It was easy to build a significant image around red, red is beauty, flame, sexy, it is passion, and a great color for any woman.
AB: Can you talk about the Valentino Garavani Virtual Museum? How did this project come about? What are your plans for the future of this organization? GG: When we retired, our priority became to preserve our past as carefully as possible, to be able to connect not just with our audience but also with younger generations who may or may not have heard
of the house of Valentino. In the process of looking backward, we decided to take a leap forward, and connect to people in the language of the internet.
The Valentino Virtual Museum went live in December 2010
AB: In your book Private: Giancarlo Giammetti, how does it feel to showcase some of your personal photography for the first time? In particular, having your creative endeavors in the spotlight rather than Valentino’s? GG: I have been taking pictures all my life. I did them to remember the extraordinary life that Valentino and I had the chance to live, our work, our friends, our holidays. The good moments and the sad ones, all were taken by my camera. I had more than 57,000 pictures, all perfectly archived. Somebody suggested a book and I said no, he insisted, and finally convinced me to open my life and my private moments. It was difficult at the beginning but then the movie “Valentino: The Last Emperor” had such a great success, people seemed enjoy seeing a bit of these private moments that I felt comfortable and happy to share them.
Valentino and I have been so private for most of our life. Today we live in a world of sharing; Facebook, Twitter, Instagram are about a conversation with others, that is what my book is about.
AB: What is next for you? What projects are you working on? GG: For the moment, just relax and have fun in New York!
Images courtesy Giancarlo Giametti, Aussoline