March 5, 2006

Valentino says he just can’t stop

By Kerstin Gehmlich

PARIS (Reuters) - With his 74 years, Valentino is one of
the oldest fashion designers around, but the Italian says he's
just enjoying himself too much to stop.

Valentino, who has been in business for over 45 years,
showed no signs of fatigue on Sunday, displaying an elegant
ready-to-wear collection including his trademark fire-engine
red evening gowns and sleek black and white outfits.

"I do my collections with lots of joy," a tanned Valentino,
wearing a classic gray suit, told Reuters backstage after his
show. "And I can never stop because for me, doing collections,
and drawings and new collections is a big, big pleasure."

Valentino, who has dressed Hollywood stars ranging from
Sophia Loren to Gwyneth Paltrow, is one of the oldest designers
on the Paris fashion scene where masters like him or German
Karl Lagerfeld, 67, are now sharing space with a new

A range of young designers brought the French capital's
catwalks to life this week, including 29-year-old Belgian
Olivier Theyskens at Rochas or 38-year-old American Patrick
Robinson at Paco Rabanne.

But Valentino seemed untiring, saying his clothes seduced
famous actresses and young girls alike.

"The fact that tonight there are several stars wearing my
things as they go to the Academy Awards makes me very happy and
also very proud," Valentino said.

"And also to have very many young girls, 19 or 20 years
old, who dream about getting married in my wedding gowns --
that keeps me very, very happy," he said.

The designer, known for making luxurious daywear for
ladies-who-lunch, sent out model wearing straight-cut jackets
giving them a high waist through a ribbon as a belt, or little
graffiti-inspired sequined jackets and skirts.

"Of course I have to express myself in my drawings before I
decide a collection. I decide my silhouette on paper," he said.

"This time, I wanted to do very clean and perfect graphics
in black and white, and of course I mixed it at the end with
some (Jean-Michel) Basquiat. That is a great painter,"
Valentino said of the graffiti-inspired artist.


Black also dominated at John Galliano's show. But that was
about the only thing the British designer's collection shared
with Valentino's.

The swashbuckling Galliano took guests to an industrial
studio outside Paris late on Saturday, where models in long
floor-sweeping black coats paraded out on a runway lit by
massive metal chandeliers.

Wearing big cowboy boots and hats, girls came out in tight
trousers with colorful attached cloth fragments featuring stars
and stripes. One model wore an image of the U.S. flag on a
transparent top, while others presented short checkered skirts.

Galliano chose a tamer display for his collection this
year, after causing a stir when he paraded out midgets, giants,
bearded men and grandmothers in a colorful show last season.

"I thought it was a lot of his greatest hits, the things
he's known for," Amy Astley, editor-in-chief of Teen Vogue
said. "The chiffon dresses, bias-cut dresses, some good denim
pieces, good outer wear...I thought it was really sort of a