Iconic Italian couturier Valentino Garavani has announced his impending retirement from the world of fashion after 45 years.
In a letter to the fashion world the 75-year-old designer said Tuesday that he would present his final pret-a-porter collection in October in Paris, but step down as chief designer in the couture house that bears his name after his haute couture collection in January 2008.
He added that he believed now was "the perfect moment" to say goodbye to the world of fashion.
Like a diva leaving the stage while she still enjoyed success, Valentino wrote, he also wanted to bid farewell to the runway before his decline began.
The northern Italy-born designer had in July held three days of parties to celebrate the 45th birthday of the label he founded, prompting speculation at the time that a retirement announcement was imminent.<b1>
Among the A-listers attending the July bashes were Princess Caroline of Monaco, Uma Thurman and Sara Jessica Parker.
Valentino said that his anniversary celebrations had been an "unrepeatable magic moment".
Actress Sophia Loren, a long-term Valentino fan, paid tribute to the designer, saying he had brought the label "Made in Italy" to the world.
His class, his talent, his incomparable reds (the designer's trademark colour) had captivated the entire world, Loren said.
Deputy Rome mayor Maria Pia Garavaglia meanwhile described the announcement as a sad moment for the fashion world.
Born in 1932, Valentino embarked on his career shortly after finishing school, working under local designers before moving to Paris in 1949 to study where he eventually joined Guy Laroche. He returned to his native Italy at the end of the 1950s, setting up a couture house in the Eternal City and declaring that he should henceforth be known only as Valentino.
It was with his signature red eveningwear creations that Valentino captivated actresses, divas and royalty alike, bringing him worldwide renown.