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Bye, Bye, Val

One of high fashion's most glamorous designers gets ready to retire after 45 years, and a flurry of changes surrounds his iconic atelier. Here, a scene from Valentino's fall couture show.

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WWD Year In Fashion issue 2007/12/11
One of high fashion's most glamorous designers gets ready to retire after 45 years, and a flurry of changes surrounds his iconic atelier. Here, a scene from Valentino's fall couture show.

One of high fashion's most glamorous designers gets ready to retire after 45 years, and a flurry of changes surrounds his iconic atelier.

Shall they stay or shall they go?


View the full coverage of  WWD Year in Fashion 2007 at www.wwd.com/yearfashion07

They went. After 45 years at the peak of fashion's Mount Olympus and a loyal following of actresses, socialites and crowned heads, Valentino and his longtime business partner, Giancarlo Giammetti, said on Sept. 4 that they would retire after one more ready-to-wear show and one more couture presentation this January.

Questions about their future had churned throughout fashion circles ever since Valentino and Giammetti sent out "save the date" cards in the spring for a mega 45th anniversary bash in Rome. Many fashion insiders viewed the high-gloss celebration as the perfect opportunity for the 75-year-old designer to step down — which he and Giammetti repeatedly denied.

Adding more fuel to the speculation was an internal battle for control of Valentino Fashion Group that kicked off in May, pitting equity firms Carlyle (supported by VFG chairman Antonio Favrin) and Permira against each other. Permira outbid Carlyle, shelling out about $3.55 billion to buy VFG, which aside from Valentino owns a majority stake in Hugo Boss and men's wear brand Lebole.

For the transaction, Permira set up a new company called Red & Black Lux Sarl, entirely controlled by the fund. Permira was founded in 1985 with a network initially based in London, Frankfurt and Paris. The Milan branch was set up in 1988 and is headed by Gianluca Andena and Nicola Volpi. Since it was founded, Permira has raised funds worth approximately $29.7 billion, investing in 180 transactions.

Between the takeover and the July festivities, questions raged about how much Permira needed Valentino himself — especially in the beginning, as it settled into the luxury goods pilot seat — and, conversely, how much did Valentino and Giammetti care to grapple with yet another new owner after HdP bought it in 1998 and Marzotto in 2002.
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