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
But Valentino and Giammetti insisted they were in no hurry to go anywhere. At a news conference just weeks before from the July bash, Giammetti waved off any rumors of a swan song by insisting that the two had bulletproof contracts and that "nothing had changed."

Then, at the Rome party, sources said the two were renegotiating a three-year pact with Permira that was due to be finalized soon.

The Rome extravaganza was said to have cost more than $10 million — most of it paid by VFG. And the extravaganza had impact beyond the house of Valentino — organizers of the Paris fall couture shows and the Milan and Paris men's spring collections moved up their respective fashion weeks to accommodate the bash.

But the party was worth every cent to the jaded fashion pack.

Valentino rejoiced in his role as King of Rome and la mode, feted by the crème de la crème of fashion, Hollywood and society. Among the 1,000 guests were Uma Thurman, Sienna Miller, Anne Hathaway, Giorgio Armani, Tom Ford, Karl Lagerfeld and Princess Caroline of Monaco.

The three-day event included fireworks and aerial acrobats in front of the Colosseum, a surprise Annie Lennox concert and dinners in such special locations as the Temple of Venus and Parco dei Daini within Villa Borghese.

Such a memorable event heavily influenced Valentino's decision to step down, at least according to the statement revealing his retirement: "The great event that celebrated my 45 years of work in Rome in July was a magical and unrepeatable moment. It would be impossible to match the emotion and the joy for the friendship and consideration that the whole world expressed. Thus, I have decided that this is the perfect moment to say goodbye to the fashion world."

Exactly what led Valentino and Giammetti to bid addio to the fashion world is still unclear, but the most likely scenario is that contract talks broke down, probably due to money issues. It's no secret that Valentino and Giammetti were tough when it came to contract bargaining and securing high-lifestyle bonuses. According to one source, among the many clauses Valentino pulled off with Marzotto was for the textile maker to foot the bill for the crew on Valentino's yacht.
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