Assouline - Books: Valentino: At the Emperor's Table
Valentino: At the Emperor's Table
As fashion editor and friend André Leon Talley writes in the introduction, “Valentino Garavani designs his luncheons and dinners, in all of his homes, the way he has created crescendos and allegros vivace throughout his forty-plus-year career as one of the greatest haute couture designers and high-fashion leaders in the world.”
Beauty and entertaining have long been passions of Valentino. “I am in love with beauty,” he admits in the book’s opening. “I have always loved beautiful objects.” Though beyond the tangible objets d’art housed in each of his residences, Valentino’s excellence as a host is defined by the warmth and joy he creates for his guests.
“When you enter his world, you enter the world of luxury; you enter a rare and opulent, yet warm space,” adds Talley. The atmosphere evokes the “joy of sharing, and the joy of delivering a magnificent dining experience in a setting of wonder and originality; sharing with family, friends and guests; sharing good conversation that is quite often animated; and sharing beautiful flowers, especially from Valentino’s own gardens,” he continues in his introduction.
Photographed by renowned Italian photographer Oberto Gili, and organized by residence, this book invites the reader to enjoy various table settings and recipes specific to each home. A flan au chevre may be served on Portuguese porcelain at his ski chalet in Gstaad, while a visit to his home in London reveals a “decorating masterpiece”--says Talley in his text--with an orientalist dining room of blue and white china. The New York City pied-a-terre showcases “table decorations…limitless in their exquisiteness” including Russian dinner-service sets and ruby red Irish glass plates. On T.M. Blue One, guests are served Mediterranean-inspired cuisine atop custom, seafaring-themed dinner service sets. “I love sharing the things in my life with my friends,” Valentino says.
Among all of these luxurious homes, the crown jewel of Valentino’s residential repertoire is the Chateau de Wideville, a historic chateau outside of Paris that is admittedly Valentino’s favorite. There, meals of Italian inspired home cooking, such as risotto Milanese, are presented amongst his collection of rare Meissen swans. “I love antique china sets, like Meissen, Russian, or from P.K. Selesia, a German company from the 1930s” he states.
Though regardless of residence or number of guests, Valentino’s commitment to excellence does not waver. “I am very often alone and enjoying my houses,” Valentino says. “Entertaining thirty or one is the same; the food has to be on a beautiful plate. The dream came true.”
Valentino Garavani, often known simply as Valentino, is a legendary fashion designer and master couturier. He founded his eponymous fashion house in Rome in the late 1950s and has since established an illustrious career designing for the world’s most glamorous women, from royalty to Hollywood icons, including Jackie O, Elizabeth Taylor and modern-day muses like Gwyneth Paltrow and Anne Hathaway.
From his start designing dresses, Valentino and long-time business partner Giancarlo Giammetti built the Valentino brand into an international empire, now one of the most iconic fashion brands in the world, often associated with his signature color, “Valentino Red”. Though Valentino retired from fashion in 2008, he continues to create and follow his passions.