In a dramatic gesture on the eve of the international fashion collections, Valentino, with his partner, Giancarlo Giammetti, announced Tuesday that both would resign from the Valentino company in early 2008. The news ended speculation that has buzzed around the fashion house since a star-studded gala in Rome in July celebrating the iconic Italian couturier’s 45 years in the business.
Valentino, 75, said he would leave the company he founded with Giammetti in the early 1960s after his ready-to-wear show in Paris in October and his couture collection next January. Calling the anniversary celebrations “A moment of infinite magic and tremendous joy,” Valentino said that this seemed “The perfect moment to say adieu to the world of fashion.” “My future will be filled with new interests and challenges,” he said in a statement. “Some may be linked to fashion, as I have a strong desire to create and support institutions to promote the study of fashion design, and to preserve the history of the art of fashion.“
In a briefer statement that underscored his role as Valentino’s facilitator, Giammetti said: “I feel honored and infinitely grateful to have been working with such a powerful creative force in the making of a prestigious international brand.”
That brand has been controlled since earlier this year by Permira, the private equity group based in London. Permira is in the process of completing the €2.6 billion, or $3.5 billion, buyout – which includes the more lucrative Hugo Boss brand – from the Marzotto Group, which bought it in 2002.
Although Valentino had repeatedly declined to comment on his presumed departure, it was generally assumed that Permira would look for younger talent, perhaps with Valentino as a consultant.The fact the announcement was not made jointly with Permira suggested that there could have been some conflict. But it could equally be because no successor has yet been found. Permira had no immediate comment.
Speculation has recently centered on Alessandra Facchinetti, 35, an Italian former designer at Gucci, and on the design duo behind the American label Proenza Schouler. The Valentino Fashion Group took a 45 percent stake in that company in July, and Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez, both 29, who are behind Proenza Schouler, appear to be waiting in the wings.
Valentino Garavani, who was trained in Paris, ultimately rose to the dizzying heights of Italian haute couture and has become a fashion legend. He dressed the famous, from Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis to Sophia Loren, and a slew of young European and Hollywood stars.