12 posts tagged "Giancarlo Giammetti"
Private No More: Giancarlo Giammetti on Life With Valentino, Elizabeth Taylor’s Expensive Taste, and Lauren Hutton’s Tantrums
Many of fashion’s great performers have benefited from great showrunners—those unsung partners who protect and guide from offstage. The line you hear about Giancarlo Giammetti, then, is that he allows Valentino to be Valentino. What that means exactly can be hard to explain. Suffice it to say that what began as a mutual attraction turned into one of the most fruitful collaborations the fashion world has ever seen. In helping to build up the legendary label, Giammetti also laid the groundwork for the industry as it is today. His relationship with his partner is as moving as it is complicated—or so it appears in Valentino: The Last Emperor, the acclaimed documentary that ushered Valentino vividly back into the spotlight in 2008, at a time when the pair behind the famous name might have retreated into relative (but impossibly opulent) obscurity. Now, with Private: Giancarlo Giammetti, Giammetti offers another peek into the Valentino world. Published by Assouline, the twelve-pound tome is a compendium of reflections and photos, nearly all of them snapped by Giammetti himself, of the long, enviable life he’s led—one that has contained so many royals, Hollywood idols, and pharaonic fashion types that it more or less functions as an illustrated social history of the latter half of the twentieth century. Giammetti spoke with Style.com about fashion then and now, the glamorous “tribe” with which he’s always traveled, and the “diva fits” he’s come to take in stride.
In his foreword to the book, Valentino writes that he learned some things about you that he did not know before. Is that even possible?
It’s true. Everybody has secrets, no? It was easier to tell them to the book than to him! He would have reacted, probably. At least the book was silent.
The Last Emperor made your life public in a way that it never had been before. Could you have done this book without that movie?
You’d always guarded your privacy. Tell me about how the movie changed that.
The movie was a surprise. The first time we went to see it, we came out of the room so shocked that I called the lawyers. I felt so violated. I expected a documentary about fashion, the beautiful girls, the runways, the parties. I didn’t expect to feel so naked. Continue Reading “Private No More: Giancarlo Giammetti on Life With Valentino, Elizabeth Taylor’s Expensive Taste, and Lauren Hutton’s Tantrums” »
When Giancarlo Giammetti first met Jerry Hall, the supermodel told him that she was a cowgirl. However, to Giancarlo’s ear, her Texan twang made it sound like she said “call girl.” “I was really shocked…So I very shyly ask whether she arranged to meet her clients by phone or in person. She say, ‘What clients?’ I say, ‘You say you are a call girl.’ And she say, ‘No, no, no! I am a cowgirl!’ We became great friends.” Giammetti—the ultra-tan Italian force who’s served as Valentino Garavani’s business partner for 45 years—discusses this, his relationship with Valentino (occupational and otherwise), the influence of stylists, and more in the latest installment of Vanity Fair‘s “Out to Lunch” series. Apparently, Giammetti dined with journalist John Heilpern via Skype. Naturally, the former was stuck on Valentino’s yacht on the Aegean sea, and couldn’t make it for an IRL meal.
As industries go, fashion may be the least closeted there is: No one can deny the massive impact made by men and women who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered in the history of fashion and costume. Fashion historian Valerie Steele addresses the contributions made by LGBT people in a new exhibition, A Queer History of Fashion: From the Closet to the Catwalk, opening this week at the Museum at F.I.T. It includes pieces ranging from designs by Jean Paul Gaultier and Gianni Versace to Edwardian suits and nineteenth-century finery; clothing made by gays and for gays; as well as those items and styles co-opted and fetishized by gay audiences, and from gay audiences. (See, for example, Versace’s adaptation of leather fetish regalia into his women’s haute couture.)
As the exhibition makes clear—not that it wasn’t out, as it were, already—the gay contribution to fashion is beyond doubt. The question that’s much harder to answer is why. Shortly after the show was announced last year, I sat down with Steele, who co-curated the exhibit with Fred Dennis, to try to tease out the curious correlation and connection between gayness, politics, fashion, and style.
It goes without saying—but let’s say it—that many, many fashion designers and professionals are gay. Is gayness fashion’s default position?
I don’t know if it’s the default position, because there are heterosexual men, and there are women of all different sexualities, straight, gay, and bi, in fashion—though fewer of them have come out than gay men. But I think it’s not just a stereotype to say that there’s a lot of interest in fashion and style among a lot of gay men. What we’re interested in doing with Queer History is, if you can get beyond saying it’s just a stereotype, maybe you can start exploring why it might be the case that there’s this interest in fashion and style. You’re not pathologizing it; for one thing, most people like fashion now. You could explore, is there a kind of gay sensibility that would be drawn to issues of style and fashion?
And is there?
We tend to think yes. But we think there’s not one gay aesthetic, but at least a couple of different gay aesthetics. Several, probably: One that would tend to be more idealizing, and the other that would be more disruptive and gender-fuck.
But that idealizing aesthetic could be a kind of misogyny, no? You have male designers creating designs for women’s bodies that aren’t necessarily forgiving, or even possible…
If you go online, this is the vox pop: Do gay men hate women? You saw that [first] in the fifties, when you had all these very homophobic commentators, like the psychiatrist Bergler, who said that gay men hate women and therefore they make weird clothes for them to wear. But the point is, gay men have made all different types of clothes. It’s not just that they like girls to look like teenage boys, or they like girls to look like a caricature of women. It’s all different styles. And you find that straight men and women of different sexual persuasions also doing those, too. It’s much more related to their individual aesthetic and their time period than it is to their sexual orientations. So I think you have to confront that. Some people who don’t like fashion are going to say that it’s gay men making things for putatively straight women. But I think you can’t be held back by homophobic complaints. I think it’s more important to try and explore where things might lead you and not be constrained by irrational homophobia—and irrational fashion phobia, too.
Which go hand in hand.
Which often do go hand in hand.
Where does this connection between gay men and fashion come from?
I think it’s partly a kind of self-selection early on that gay boys, maybe before they know they’re gay, are interested often in artistic pursuits. “Artistic” was always a kind of euphemism for being gay. Lots of gay people talk about, “When I was four, I was telling my mother how to dress. When I was four, I was doing elaborate drawings of ladies’ costumes.” That’s before you have much of a sexual identity, but there’s already possibly something there that’s attractive about artistic and transformative fields like fashion. Fashion is about artifice and transformation and fantasy and a certain idea of beauty. I think it’s intrinsically very appealing to a lot of people, and it may just be that, at least in certain cultures—and there’s been so little cross-cultural work done, it’s hard to tell—that may be something that’s part of a gay male sensibility. Continue Reading “Glitter and Be Gay? Addressing the LGBT Influence in Fashion” »
Jackie Kennedy was 39 years old when she married Aristotle Onassis on October 20, 1968. One of the many pleasures of Valentino: Master of Couture, opening today at Somerset House in London, is the opportunity to reflect on how incongruously jeune fille her wedding dress was, with its lacy stockings and bowed, kitten-heeled shoes. It would look positively dreamy on Cara Delevingne, 2012′s Girl of the Year. That’s one way of making the point that, in the 50 years of Valentino outfits on display in Patrick Kinmonth, Antonio Monfreda, and Alistair O’Neill’s masterfully curated exhibition, there is virtually nothing that couldn’t walk down a street or—more likely—a red carpet today. Call it timeless genius, or maybe just settle for the fact that, in being true to his own vision, Valentino managed to glide past the whims of the moment. The curation makes that point crystal clear. “The clothes are grouped not by decade but by instinct,” Kinmonth explained at a preview yesterday, “because Valentino as a designer was always instinctive, never trend-driven.” Just check out the first look in the exhibition, from 1959. The navy blue wool cocktail dress with panel detailing on the back has got Alexa Chung written all over it. (Funny coincidence that Valentino was chosen to present her with the Style Icon trophy at the British Fashion Awards on Tuesday night.)
Kinmonth and Monfreda were responsible for Valentino’sfarewell to fashion in Rome in 2007, but where that event had an imperial grandeur, this one is intimate and reflective. Monfreda took one look at the long, vaulted space in Somerset House and imagined a catwalk where the “audience” was composed of mannequins wearing the clothes, and the “models” were the visitors. It’s a simple, brilliant switcheroo that transforms a tricky venue into le dernier cri in fashion exhibitions. No mean achievement given Kinmonth and Monfreda’s track recordwith the Met’s Costume Institute.
“All my girls, my daughters,” Valentino mused yesterday as he looked at his dresses. “I feel like the daddy.” But fathers have favorites and, pressed to pick a few, the designer indicated apink taffeta suit from 2008, a blue chiffon dress he’d first sketched in the fifties, a satin and lace evening dress that Doris Brynner wore to the Patino Ball in 1968. He chuckled over a camo-patterned couture gown from Fall 1994. “Warhol had done it in art, so I thought why not do it in fashion,” Val recalled. “Not one sold.”
There are, in fact, 45 dresses from the Valentino archives that have never been seen before, alongside more obvious drawcards like Julia Roberts’ Oscar dress, Jackie’s iconic ensemble and Princess Marie-Chantal of Greece’s wedding dress, which took 25 people four months to make, with every minute obvious in the surreally extravagant result. Adjacent to the M-C opulence is a room screening videos that detail the techniques that created the clothes. There is also a “virtual museum” (available soon online), which includes more “how-to’s” for obsessives who care to duplicate the extraordinary handwork on display throughout the show. The “behind-the-scenes” element is Kinmonth and Monfreda’s acknowledgement of London, a rather moreloosey-goosey proposition than Rome, the city that hosted the last Valentino retro they designed. But it also offers an intimate human perspective on the grand legacy that Giancarlo Giammetti, the éminence grise of the Valentino story, has worked so hard to guarantee. The designer himself seemed to be feeling the same thing. Asked what he wanted people to feel as they left the exhibition, his answer was a wistful, “We miss you.”
Plus: See all the photos and read Tim Blanks’ report from the exhibition’s celebration dinner here.