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Valentino’s Other Half

Culture Watch
"PRIVATE: Giancarlo Giammetti,” published by Assouline.

Living in the era of Instagram, where images of the mundane, personal and practical inundate us 24/7, one has a greater appreciation for a carefully edited selection of images that provide some insight into a person’s life. The book “PRIVATE: Giancarlo Giammetti,” published by Assouline, does exactly that. The retrospective coffee table book written by the former business partner and life companion of designer Valentino Garavani, gives readers access to thousands of intimate and candid photographs that share a visual depiction of his private life.

“Not many people know that I have been taking pictures almost all my life,” says Giammetti. “I had amassed more than 57,000 images. Reviewing them all [for this book] reminded me that Valentino and I have lived through an amazing series of events and fashion moments, and that we have met thousands of interesting people.”

“Private” goes beyond the business the partners built, and focuses on the rarified world the two existed in socially. From yacht to private beach to exclusive soiree, Giammetti and Garavani lead a jet-setting and glamorous lifestyle that exist for most in fantasy and dreams.

Divided into four sections, this story begins in the “Early Days” where Giammetti recounts his birth in Rome during World War II. It continues through a chance meeting with the young Valentino in 1960 at Café de Paris in Rome, during the height of “La Dolce Vita.” Once introduced the two quickly establish a lasting bond and have lived their lives by each other’s side.

Their relationship created the foundation for “The Tribe” the title of the book’s second section and what Giammetti calls the eclectic cast of characters and lifelong friends that he describes as “the extended family that we voluntarily create over time,” and at other times, a “traveling circus.”

“Work” the book’s third section, outlines Giammetti’s professional achievements building the Valentino brand. “In a nutshell, my life’s work has been allowing Valentino the freedom to be Valentino,” he says. Though in reality, Giammetti allowed the “maestro” to create, while he successfully managed all other aspects of the business. As this section outlines, he was a pioneer of practices in advertising, licensing and ready-to-wear collections that are now standard in today’s fashion industry. The text also touches upon Giammetti’s most recent creation, the Valentino Garavani Virtual Museum.

The closing section “Society” chronicles the Valentino/Giammetti lifestyle including everything from walking barefoot with Jackie O in Capri, dinners with Andy Warhol in New York, and teaching Madonna how to ski in Gstaad.

Available at Books & Books in a limited edition slipcase.

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