Much like a film can be placed in time by its visual feel, so too can fashion, providing a winsome record of the world at large. In the 60s, we see the greater political outlook reflected in bohemian blouses and floral patterns. The 80s, with big shoulders and garish colors, evoked the revival of laissez-faire capitalism and political grandstanding. According to Garavani, fashion reflects the time in which we live. He says “it must also, like a movie or music, inspire and make people dream.” The museum is in this sense not only a source of inspiration but a visual tool for studying fashion and the last half-century’s social events. In a British Vogue article, Valentino refers to his museum’s concept as “future memory”—a glimpse of the past in an ultramodern medium. He says it is a way to “review the fashion that has shaped our lives.”
Fashion and clothing are often considered superficially extravagant, but we all know the value of appearances. We live in a time when slobs are far too prevalent. The great hordes’ overall lack of finesse can be jarring. It is an unfortunate time for appearances, which is a shame because as Valentino points out, “today ready-to-wear has achieved a quality and sophistication that once belonged just to couture.” He says the only thing he would change about high street fashion would be to make things simpler: “Less va-va-voom…and more like an old American way to dress, a shirt…jeans…flat shoes.” If only more people took their cues from Mr. Valentino.
Valentino says he is most proud of the style and identity he created. Giammetti, ever the businessman, looks to the present. He is most pleased that retirement can include projects such as this museum.
Garavani and Giammetti live privileged lives surrounded by exceptional beauty. Their houses in Italy, France, England, and Switzerland betray the fact that they are true aesthetes. While it might be easy to envy the grandeur with which Valentino and Giammetti are surrounded, they deserve it more than anything because they earned it. Valentino has been a true creator of beauty, which is its own reward. Unlike some modern designers, Valentino has always behaved like a gentleman of the old school. Aspiring designers and creative individuals starting out will do well to take inspiration from Garavani and Giammetti.