Naples: the Italian capital of pizza, caffé, and…fashion. In the beginnings of the 20th century, this beautiful Mediterranean city saw the birth of Mario Valentino, and along with him the story of his famous Italian fashion house.
Deep-rooted in the Italian manufacturing traditions, the brand was founded by Mario Valentino in 1952, as a heritage from his father’s shoe-making laboratory, which already had brought the Italian label to success, even catching the eye of the Italian King Vittorio Emanuele, who liked to buy his shoes. Starting from a limited production of very beautiful personalized shoes, that bore the guarantee of elegance and quality typical of the Italian fashion tradition, Mario Valentino has become one of the leaders of the “made-in-Italy” in the leather goods market, with the production of shoes, accessories and women’s wear.
The famous spike heels, as well as the worldwide worn women’s moccasin, bear the name of Mario Valentino on their label. But what gave the Italian stylist the opportunity to leave a mark in the history of Italian -and World- fashion was the precious Coral Sandal. Invented in 1954, at the very beginning of the Italian designer’s career, the elegant and refined shoe was such a breakthrough that it is now exposed at the Bally Shoes Museum in Zurich (Switzerland).
The famous sandal also caught the attention of the US luxury shoes’ giant I. Miller, which offered Mario Valentino the opportunity to work with him. The Italian designer, though, refused to go back to Naples, as he was very bound to his origins. From his little popular district of Le Fontanelle, the Italian fashion talent went on with his work; the headquarters of the Italian brand are still there, in a modern flagship store, while the production is committed to a plant in the outskirts of Naples.
The “international cobbler”, as Mario Valentino was called, became soon famous all over the world: his philosophy and vision of arts as parallel to fashion led him to create lines inspired by paintings, and a lot of modern artists such as Andy Warhol or the Italian sculptor Arnaldo Pomodoro. Many more worldwide names loved to wear Mario Valentino’s creations: from the politicians like Jackie Kennedy Onassis, to singers like Maria Callas, or international celebrities like Liz Taylor, Ava Gardner, Catherine Deneuve, the Twins Kessler, Monica Vitti, or Marcello Mastroianni to name just a few.
The success of the Italian brand led to its expansion towards other fields. Thanks to the collaboration with the most known fashion designer like Gianni Versace, Giorgio Armani or Karl Lagerfeld, Mario Valentino became one of the representatives of the “made-in-Italy” in the world. He thought that a shoe could make the difference: a beautiful dress with a bad shoe lost his charm. So the Italian designer started to dress women from toe to head. Napa leather skirts, chamois weaves, precious nightgowns, accessories that range from belts and bags to foulards and ties, a wide selection of refined and prestigious creations grouped under the Italian label.
Mario Valentino’s work was recognized by the high Italian authorities, who named him “Cavaliere della Repubblica”. His commitment didn’t concern only the world of fashion, but the Italian stylist was also known for being a great benefactor, especially involved in the fight against cancer, together with his brother, a famous neuroradiologist. Mario Valentino’s story has also included a President chair in Helene Curtis’ Spa, specialized in beauty and cosmetics, and a political career, while the Italian brand expanded its activity from fashion to finance, air-transport or publishing.
The Italian fashion house is now under the leadership of Vincenzo Valentino, who took the helm of his father’s company in 1991, after Mario’s death. Vincenzo is the young heir of a big emperor that is now expanding its activity to Tokyo, New York, Russia and Eastern Europe countries, but it still bears the traditional “made-in-Italy” style.
Mario Valentino S.p.A.
Via Fontanelle, 85
80136 Napoli, Italy
Tel: [+39] 081 5441380
Fax: [+39] 081 5441395
Via Borgonuovo, 27
20121 Milano, Italy
Tel: [+39] 02 8054744
Fax: [+39] 02 878152