In 2008, Valentino Garavani was the subject of the highly successful documentary Valentino: The Last Emperor, which revealed his passionate, heated and ultimately tender relationship with his partner in business and life, Giancarlo Giammetti. Now Giammetti is having his own turn in the spotlight with the release of “Private: Giancarlo Giammetti,” a new book from Assouline, co-written by W’s Armand Limnander. The lush tome features personal photographs Giammetti has taken since he first met the young Valentino in 1960.
Monday evening, W’s Stefano Tonchi feted Giammetti and Limnander at the soon-to-open Sant Ambroeus Soho. Between chatting with the event’s DJ Marjorie Gubelmann (aka Mad Marj) and guests like Hugh Jackman and Olivier Theyskens, Giammetti offered his thoughts on his book.
The book begins when you first met Mr. Valentino. Did you have any idea at the time you were starting to keep the journals and take all those photos what kind of life you would end up living?
I was 20, how can you be even thinking that would be my life? I was also coming from a very bourgeois family in Italy. We didn’t know anything about fashion. I didn’t know anything about this world. The society was in Rome, which is a bit of a provincial city, beautiful, great life, but nothing like this. So how can I even imagine. I was very lucky that evening that I met him to be able to achieve what I achieved.
And at what point did you realize that through your photos and journals you were essentially documenting an era and all the people in it?
You know I did it because I wanted to remember things. And then I start to write every day in a diary. And then taking pictures. And then one day those pictures were so many I had to give myself an order and I did an archive. At that moment I began to understand that I had through these pictures really the part of a certain kind of society and really an era, as you said. And the only thing that I didn’t have was nostalgia. Me, I’m always in the future so I think I was very lucky not to feel sad when I looked at the pictures. Of course people die so I was sad about some people, but in the meantime it gave me a great energy.
You reveal some very intimate details about your life in this book, like a stint in jail more than three decades ago and the evolving nature of your relationship with Valentino. What made you want to share all those things?
It was primarily because I was ready with the pictures and then I think the movie, Valentino the Last Emperor made such an impact on a certain kind of people. And I understood that there are people who want to know more about mystique, those people hidden behind a name and I thought at the time, Maybe I should share a bit more of this. And also today, you share everything through Instagram and Facebook—you are used to sharing. And the response is so great that I’m very glad. Of course there are things that maybe one day I will say, Why did I write that? Why did I put this picture in? But for the moment I’m very happy.
You’re still taking pictures. Can we expect a sequel in a few years?
I don’t think so. I don’t think about the photography sequel. But I think there is a lot I want to talk about as a text. I think in this book the text is important, but there is so much more I want to say that probably a book of words is next.