Valentino red lives again as Facchinetti debuts

Thu Feb 28, 2008 10:30am EST
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By Rachel Sanderson

PARIS (Reuters) - Alessandra Facchinetti debuted in what is arguably the toughest job in fashion on Thursday presenting her first collection for Valentino since the maestro couturier retired in January after 45 years.

And, perhaps wisely, the 35-year-old former Gucci designer did not stray far from the path that made Valentino the red-carpet favorite for generations of glamorous women from Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis to Julia Roberts.

Ruffles, bows and lipstick red dresses -- the signature touches Valentino made his own over decades -- all made their appearance, together with modern twists of volume skirts and sleek black suiting.

Held on an all-white runway at the Palais de Chaillot near the Eiffel Tower, Facchinetti also stayed true to Valentino's legendary love of spectacle, although overall opted for a more muted palette of blacks, navy and beige.

Actress Winona Ryder, a front row guest, said the show was "beautiful." Notably also on the front row, Giancarlo Giammetti, Valentino Garavani's long-time business partner, gave his blessing, and noted its "elegance, quality and lightness."

Succeeding Valentino is a daunting task because of the designer's iconic status and because the appointment is seen as a test during a period when many fashion houses are burning through designers in only a clutch of seasons.

"I hope it went well. Let's see tomorrow," Facchinetti said backstage after the show, surrounded by television cameras.

"The DNA of the house will never change, only the point of view will change and that will allow us to do new things," she added.   Continued...

<p>Models present creations by Italian designer Alessandra Facchinetti for Valentino as part of their Fall/Winter 2008/09 women's ready-to-wear fashion show in Paris February 28, 2008. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes</p>