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
Sources said in September the designer was "very upset" over his retirement and that he had "low regard" for Permira, while others claimed that after having shelled out billions of euros, Permira demanded carte blanche decision-making power.

But along with the speculation over the future of Valentino himself was the question of who could succeed The Chic, as WWD has called him. In July, VFG acquired a stake in Proenza Schouler, stirring speculation designers Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough were being groomed for the job.

Instead, on Sept. 6, the company confirmed the buzz that Alessandra Facchinetti would take the creative reins of Valentino's women's collections, including couture. Facchinetti, who now shuttles between Rome and Milan and is implementing her staff in the latter city, will show her first Valentino main collection in Paris for fall 2008. Last week in New York, Facchinetti previewed her initial effort for the company, a pre-fall line, and explained her approach: "What I am doing is trying to establish my aesthetic into a Valentino frame. This is a house where couture was the main aspect. I want to explore the culture of couture. I want to keep the culture of the house in terms of gowns, but lighten it up."

At the same time as Facchinetti's appointment, longtime accessories designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli were named creative directors for the fast-growing category. In October, Ferruccio Pozzoni was named men's wear director.

The day before Facchinetti was named to replace him, Valentino had said, "I realize that the maison that bears my name will change, but I hope that the creative [head] that will design the various lines where my assistants work will know how to continue my work in a way that will make me proud."

He added: "I was lucky to be able to turn my teenage passion into a job that has always given me joy and recognition, and of having kept my style regardless of all the major changes that fashion underwent."
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