SAJO’s Collaboration with Valentino: Crafting Fashion History in Flagship Stores

The haute couture and prêt-à-porter fashion house, Valentino, was founded by Valentino Clemente Ludovico Garavani in the late 1950’s.

Born in 1932 in the northern Italian region of Lombardy, in the small town of Voghera, Valentino spent a short time studying fashion sketching in Milan before moving to Paris in 1949 where he pursued his studies and subsequently joined the renowned French couture houses of Jean Dessès (1952-1957) and Guy Laroche (1957-1959). Upon his return to Italy in 1959, Valentino opened his own atelier in Rome’s upscale Via dei Condotti where he presented his first collection. In 1960, he joined forces with his business and life partner, Giancarlo Giammetti and in 1962, launched his haute couture collection at Palazzo Pitti in Florence. 

Valentino designs were thrust into the fashion spotlight when they caught the attention of the renowned actress, Elizabeth Taylor. It was not long before the flair and style of Valentino creations were sought after by other entertainment celebrities, high society figures, and European aristocracy. Although recognized for his signature “Valentino red” dress collection, it was his 1967 “all-white” line which won him critical acclaim and launched his trademark “V” logo. 

The first Valentino boutique was opened in 1969 in Milan, followed by shops in Rome and New York in 1970. Today Valentino has a worldwide presence which spans over ninety countries, showcasing one-of-a-kind haute couture creations, women’s and men’s ready-to-wear collections, Valentino Garavani accessories, as well as eyewear, beauty, and fragrance lines.

The Italian luxury label was sold in 1998, with Valentino remaining as designer until his retirement in 2008 when he was succeeded by Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli. In July 2016, Pierpaolo Piccioli was appointed as sole Creative Director of the fashion house.

In 2008, the London architect, David Chipperfield, was appointed to develop a new store concept, first unveiled in February 2012 with the opening of the renovated Valentino flagship in Milan’s Via Montenapoleone. The new store concept was applied, among others, to the fashion house’s largest and most representative flagship, built in 2015, in Rome’s Piazza di Spagna. The novel architectural design blended the old with the new and integrated the brand’s history with its contemporary urban identity.

In recent years, as part of its worldwide retail expansion, Valentino opened its first boutique in Canada at Toronto’s Yorkdale Shopping CenterSAJO was entrusted with the construction of the 4,200 square foot store in collaboration with the brand’s engineering team as well as its design and architectural associates, Atmosphere Design Group and dkstudio architects. The store was successfully completed in a tight twelve-week timeframe to open, as planned, in one of Canada’s busiest and most upscale shopping malls.

In 2022, a new global store concept was developed in-house under the direction of Pierpaolo Piccioli, succeeding David Chipperfield’s2012 architectural blueprint. Inspired by the grandeur of the Roman palazzo, and by the desire to recreate the intimacy of the classic “maison de couture”, the new aesthetic design exudes an aura of exclusivity and artistic sophistication. Composed of uniquely shaped walls, exclusive materials, and bespoke furnishings in jewel hues, each Valentino store is designed to capture the uniqueness of its physical location, reflect the luxury collections on display, and foster the warmth and intimacy of traditional Italian hospitality. 

The new store concept launched with the opening of the Jeddah, Saudi Arabia flagship, at the Al Khayyat Center in June 2022, followed by stores in Madrid’s Galeria Canalejas and Venice’s Campo San Moisè. The House of Valentino has undertaken a slow redesign of its worldwide stores according to its new concept which it plans to extend to new locations in the coming years.

The life, works and opulent lifestyle of Valentino Garavani are depicted in the 2008 documentary film, Valentino: The Last Emperor, which had its world premiere at the 2008 Venice International Film FestivalEncouraged by the film’s success, the Valentino Garavani Virtual Museum, was unveiled in December 2011, at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Based on 3-D technology, the virtual museum presents panoramic tours of close to 300 of Valentino’s iconic designs, inviting the public to explore the visionary world of the illustrious Roman designer.

In July 2023, during the event of Paris Couture Week, Maison Valentino presented its haute couture fall/winter 2023-2024 collection at the historic 16th century Château de Chantilly, to the acclaim and enchantment of its star-studded audience.

Valentino takes modern haute couture lineup to Chateau de Chantilly | Reuters

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