Valentino Garavani may have retired from fashion in 2008, but retirement hasn’t meant settling down for a quieter life. In the past year, the couturier’s perpetually bronzed face has garnered as many press clips as ever, a trend that continued with a series of appearances at the recent Los Angeles Art Weekend.
The main event of his visit was last Wednesday’s LA premiere of Valentino: The Last Emperor, which involved an A-list screening of the film at LACMA and appearances by Hollywood devotees from Gwyneth Paltrow and Joan Collins to Tom Ford and Rachel Zoe. The documentary, helmed by Matt Tyrnauer, has earned much buzz on the film festival circuit and has swept Valentino on a publicity blitz from Martha Stewart to Charlie Rose.
The day after the screening, the designer became the 13th recipient of the Rodeo Drive Walk of Style award, which will forever immortalize his name with a plaque on the famed shopping street. Anne Hathaway was on hand to present the honors, telling People.com “He’s someone who really knows what it is to be alive, and I think that comes through in all of his creations.”
That same night, Valentino appeared at Beverly Hills’ Taschen bookstore to sign copies of his vast monograph, A Grand Italian Epic. Originally released in a signed edition of 2,000 (with a price tag of $1,800), the publishers have re-issued a popular version of the tome filled with sketches and photos, press clippings and interviews, giving a comprehensive overview of the designer’s career at a “ready-to-wear price point.”
With this flurry of project launches and ensuing talk show appearances—not to mention the hiring-and-firing at his namesake label, which some speculate Valentino may have had a hand—it’s clear that just because the designer has ceded control of his fashion label, his legacy is still in his own hands. And lest we think that the end of his documentary tour means the designer will turn to gardening and stamp collecting, he’s repeatedly expressed interest in designing costumes for opera and ballet, and nearly had the chance to do so for the Moscow Opera’s 2010 production of La Traviata had a lack of funding not halted the plans. Let’s just hope that his unfaltering energy lasts longer than the recession.