Valentino Garavani founded his Rome atelier in 1959 with dreams of la dolce vita (“the sweet life”), and by the time he retired from his namesake house in 2008, the couturier had in fact grown into a fashion icon. From the start, Valentino was captivated by old Hollywood glamour, and along with business partner Giancarlo Giammetti, he crafted designs that were consummately feminine and sophisticated. “Valentino red” gowns became his signature, and over his nearly 50-year career there was hardly a major luminary he didn’t dress. This month, London’s Somerset House celebrates the designer’s life and work with the exhibition Valentino: Master of Couture (on view from Nov. 29-March 3). TIME takes a peek at six of the featured designs.
Next Winter White