Naples, Italy 1952. Mario Valentino opens his studio and ever since the headquarters of the company that has become a world leader in the manufacture of leather goods and by now an historic producer of shoes, accessories and haute couture.
The story has it's origins at the beginnings of the last century, under the reign of King Umberto II of Savoy; Mario's father Vincenzo was already famous in and around Naples and even further afield under the label “ Valentino”.
The choicest hides, expert workmanship and absolute care and attention to details could not go unnoticed neither to the royals of the House of Savoy nor to local aristocrats or international celebrities.
A griffe of extreme elegance and quality which taken under the young but genial wing of Mario Valentino, Vincenzo's son and his entrepreneurial dream and with a workshop at his disposition is finally realised; freedom to create original designs and to be in the avantgard. Now daring, bright pink high heels vertiginous stilettoes made super femminine by the ingenious use of colour, cut and coupage.
At that time a mere twenty pairs of shoes a day were despatched from the atelier; almost “made to measure”, one-off pieces practically unique in their kind, for example the mythical flat sandal, light-years away from the bon ton of the times but a startling revelation of future taste.
It was that distant 1954, that a simple flat sandal with the barest decoration; a coral flower and two fine threads of coral beads, a minute but precious “must”, more than footwear; a mirror of the the times that has conquered and made history.
First seen during Rome's Alta Moda fashion week, this simple sandal charmed and enchanted everyone from the public to buyers and the press. It is still displayed in the Bally Museum at Schonenwerd, Switzerland next to the shoes worn by Queen Elizabeth II on her wedding day.
The value of this footwear earned a first editorial in French Vogue and paved the way for the contract with the I. Miller New York studio; the only company in the Americas that at that time imported and distribuited luxury shoes and leathergoods to the United States.
Mario Valentino a great patron of arts himself and with his own personal, deep and passionate conception of art and sartorial elegance as unison, inspired his creativity and was also compatible with his favourite artists such as Andy Warhol, Gio' Pomodoro, Robert Rauschenberg, American painter and graphic artist whose early works anticipated the Pop Art movement and all of whom also shared and appreciated his same ideas.
His Neapolitan heart remained firm and in his small work place in the district of Sanità in Naples one can still breathe in the essence of that good taste and elegance, typical of the culture of the City of Partenope.
In 1966 Mario returns to Naples from America and concentrates his creativity to bags and accessories for the evening the daytime and sometimes a bit sporty too, however never renouncing precious calf, kid, sheepskin etc.etc. and also splendid colours, patchwork and original patterns.
Since the Seventies, collaboration with designers of the calibre of Karl Lagerfeld, Giorgio Armani, Gianni Versace e Claude Montanà, the imprint Mario Valentino extends to clothing that one might only describe as trendy or avantgard.
Leather jackets, trench-coats, skirts and dresses, this is where the brand defines it's distinctive superiority.
In these years the greatest top models of their time were called to bear witness and contribute to the success of the fashion house; Veruska, Pat Cleveland to name but just two, combined with the memorable publicity campaigns of the photographic genii of Robert Mapplethorpe, Richard Avedon, Tyen, Oliviero Toscani and Helmut Newton, they united Mario Valentino's philosophy about art and design in a single “address”.
As ever, ready and eager for new experiences, in March 1979, Mario Valentino participates at the first Milan fashion week and brings to the catwalk his own collection.
Thanks to the tradition of craftsmanship and technological innovation, the hides skins and leathers seem always more like fabric for their lightness, softness, versatility and comfort; all of course all entrusted to the able and specialised Italian team of professionals.
Amongst some of our clients we may note Farah Diba, Empress to the Peacock Throne and wife of the Shah of Persia, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, First Lady of the United States, Consuelo Crespi, Italian countess and influential fashion editor for Vogue, Maria Callas, diva of opera, Elizabeth Taylor Oscar winner, Catherine Deneuve and Catherine Spaak famous French actresses, The Kessler Twins international singers of cabaret in the Sixties, the Italian actresses Monica Vitti, Michelangelo Antonioni's Muse, Ilaria Occhini, Laura Efrikian and Stefania Sandrelli, many titled winner of the David di Donatello Award, the Italian singer Ornella Vanoni, and not forgetting the superb men's shoes preferred by Marcello Mastroianni, Fellini's icon actor of “La dolce vita” and “Fellini 8 e 1/2”.
In the Eighties the “Maison” expands throughout Europe, North America, Japan and a general leadership in Asia due also to the opening of exclusive boutiques Mario Valentino. By now recognised as leader in the sector not only by the industry but by figures of relevance such as Ronald and Nancy Reagan, Italian Presidents and the U.S. Ambassador to Italy Rabb.
Quality is never improvised or made in series; research of materials design and manufacture are the essential secret and without having to renounce one's own personal style and prestige.
The signature continues under the convinced direction of Mario's son Enzo Valentino. Representative boutiques and showrooms may be found in the most elegant streets of Naples and Milan's pulsing heart of Brera.