Valentino to Quit as Fashion Designer

September 4, 2007

Valentino to Quit as Fashion Designer



LONDON
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.

Valentino and Giametti at Valentino headquarters in Paris
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. It was Marzotto, however, that made the company, known for its red ink as well as the red carpet, profitable.
The Valentino group is just the latest among brands searching for new blood as famous designers reach their 70s and beyond. Yves Saint Laurent made his high-profile exit in 2002 and the current YSL designer, the Italian Stefano Pilati, has also been suggested as a possible replacement for Valentino.
Private equity investment in branded companies is currently the height of fashion. The British shoe maker Jimmy Choo, Samsonite and the American sportswear designer Betsy Johnson are prime examples of fashion brands bought by private equity firms.
Although Prada is supposedly considering finally going ahead with its much-delayed initial public offering, and Ferragamo has announced that it plans to go public next year, investors are currently offering such big numbers that they may ultimately be more attractive to family-owned brands than going to the market.