I'm often asked who my favorite designer is - and it's an easy answer: Valentino. To my eye, no one surpasses his range, his depth, his decades-long career of making the most beautifully feminine clothes.
Fortunately, his work is well archived, and there are several wonderful books that preserve it for all for us. But my favorite is the first Valentino book I ever got - Valentino: Thirty Years of Magic. I seem to recall finding it, years ago, at Rizzoli Books in New York (which makes sense, as it's a Rizzoli publication).
I've spent hours with it - absolutely amazed and inspired from a technical point of view: velvet and silk chiffon stripes? velvet scallops? finely-worked pleats with the faintest shadow of another color? And the most exquisite coat I've ever seen - sable-trimmed sheepskin, decorated with red leather, velvet, and braid:
And whenever the creative well ran dry, as I was creating gowns of for my own clients, I'd simply page through it and be overwhelmed with ideas. I carry in my agenda a small tear-out from a magazine; to quote the master:
I am of the thinking - and it may be old-fashioned - that being well-dressed makes you more comfortable with yourself. When you look at yourself in the mirror in the morning and you look wonderful, it makes you feel powerful and respect yourself...I love to see beauty, and I never want my eyes to stop looking at beautiful things. My life has been dedicated to the pursuit of beauty, and the day that I am not in this world any more, I expect to see beauty again.
Grazie, grazie, grazie, endlessly, Signor Valentino.