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Giancarlo Giammetti was at Claridge’s in London last week, kicking off a transatlantic tour for his giant, photography-heavy, coffee-table autobiography “Private: Giancarlo Giammetti,” (Assouline). Early next month, he’ll be in New York for a series of book-related events, including a talk at Parsons The New School for Design on Nov. 7.
Giammetti, who met Valentino Garavani in 1960 — the same year “La Dolce Vita” hit the big screen — and who helped him mint multimillions, was in full form: Dapper, chatty and still slightly in awe of the route his life has taken. He talked to WWD about the book, which features photographs of his daily diaries and images ranging from black-and-white shots of his parents on honeymoon to color-drenched shots of pals including Cat Stevens, Pat Cleveland, Oscar de la Renta, Jacqueline Onassis, Gwyneth Paltrow and Meryl Streep.
This story first appeared in the October 21, 2013 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The book, written with W magazine’s Armand Limnander, will be available for purchase on assouline.com and online Oct. 25, and at the publisher’s boutiques on Nov. 4.
WWD: How long have you been taking pictures, and have you improved at all over the years?
Giancarlo Giammetti: I’ve been taking pictures of friends all my life, and it took two years to archive them — there were 57,000! — it was amazing, and Carlos [Souza, the longtime p.r. chief for Valentino] suggested a book. Also, I started doing Instagram, and it’s been successful — and, no, I haven’t improved at all as a photographer.
WWD: What’s the appeal of Instagram for you? And what sort of camera do you shoot with aside from the one on your phone?
G.G.: At the beginning it was all about Polaroids, and I feel today that Instagram fills in the bit that was missing between then and now. You have the possibility of exchanging photos. You know, Andy [Warhol] was a great promoter of Polaroids. With him, you were always throwing pictures across the table, sharing and exchanging them. It’s the same with Instagram today. I miss Polaroids, though — maybe because I lived through that time. When I’m not taking pictures with my phone, I use a Hasselblad Instamatic.
WWD: What are some of the nonphotographic highlights of the book?
G.G.: I talk about my mother, my family and the early days, the moment I met Valentino and how my friends became my family, my tribe — like Carlos and his family and Gwyneth. There’s the retrospective we did at the Ara Pacis in Rome, and the Valentino movie [“The Last Emperor,” 2008] and how society has changed over the past 50 years, the Chateau [de Wideville, Valentino’s home outside Paris] and the red carpet. There are also collages using pages from my diaries. I don’t write much — I do six lines every day.
WWD: You should keep those diaries well preserved, and start thinking about what you are going to do with them.
G.G.: Are you kidding? I’m going to burn them!
WWD: What made you decide on an autobiography, rather than a photography book?
G.G.: I think the [Valentino] movie made me comfortable with doing a book. It made me see that people wanted to know about us. It taught me not to be afraid to open up, to show my private life.
WWD: What are you most proud of in this book?
G.G.: I’m not really proud of the words or even the photography — I’m proud of my life. I have had an amazing life, and I am proud to have been next to somebody like Valentino for all of these years, and of all the opportunities I’ve been given. I enjoyed every moment, and I don’t have any nostalgia.