How would you describe your character?
I'm a very strange person, very stubborn. I am a bull. I'm a Taurus. I don't know the meaning of the word impossible. I always say to my people, "Impossible doesn't exist!" Of course, I have lots of faults, like everybody. I'm too much of a dreamer. I would love in my mind to see everything around me pink. I hate dealing with war. And I am a great protector of animals.
How did you get into fashion?
I was a young kid just after the war, and I was allowed to go to the movies sometimes with my sister. I was 10 years old, and I would be awestruck in front of these ﬁlms. For me it was a dream to see the glamour girls and all those people. They were so amazing, and I think I am a designer today just because of this.
Then you went to Paris to study?
No, I started to do drawings on my own, and just before university I said to my parents, "I'm sorry, but I don't want to go. I want to be a designer, because look ..." And I had about 100 fashion drawings. I was good at design but not fashion drawings. But in my head, I knew what I had to do. It was my passion. I had fantastic parents, because for a guy of 16 to ask his parents to go to Paris? But my father had a friend who knew a patternmaker in Paris who had a beautiful apartment. So I lived in this huge apartment [while] going to the Chambre Syndicale to perfect my design. My life started there.
Once you had your own company, in retrospect, what was the biggest fashion challenge for you creatively?
I love beautiful clothes, so when fashion became about grunge and minimalism I never followed. I think those trends were very offensive for women. I always say I am here to make women look beautiful and not like fools or crazy fashion victims.
What do you think of fashion today? How has it changed?
In fashion, like every job in the world, you need a little experience to do it. Unfortunately, there are lots of people around now who become designers in a very short time. But you need experience in this job, and you need to know what is going on in the world, and you need to be a good observer, and you need to know what is in the street, and you need to know what kind of woman you want, and you need to know the material perfectly. Fashion is very di∞cult. It's not just putting together a collection with crazy things and people are clapping and deciding that you are the best designer in the world. It's not this. I'm sorry.
Who is the woman you are most proud of dressing?
Jackie. That changed everything, because she made me famous in America. I dressed Jackie for a long time on every occasion. I did the dress for the wedding to [Aristotle Onassis], but before that, when she was Mrs. Kennedy, I dressed her a lot.
Are you going to retire soon?
For the moment, I don't think so. Right now I want to be sure that we get the right people to come to continue the Valentino name. I want to make sure that they are good. Otherwise I couldn't accept to retire. It would be a pity after so many decades to do what I did and then for it not to go on with the same style and the same joy and the same appeal.
But you are looking for a successor?
Yes I mean, they [Valentino's owners ]are looking. They have mentioned it to me. I don't know when they are going to ﬁnd somebody, but they will certainly let me know. Certainly I'm not going to go on forever, this is for sure because I would love to think about something else, to take care of my new apartment in New York or, I don't know, maybe to design costumes for the ballet or opera.
If you had to choose somebody from any generation to take over for you, who would it be?
Maybe Tom Ford would be good, but now he has his own business. Maybe the guy from Balenciaga or maybe Alexander McQueen.
And who is the person you would most like to dress now? Who is the new Jackie?
My dear, I dress almost everybody.