Keni Valenti

Keni Valenti, the “King of Vintage,” built an empire of retro couture from a assortment of exquisite garments from the 1920’s -1980’s. He established legendary status among designers and clients like fashion’s heavy hitters Halston, Yves Saint Laurent, Geoffrey Beene, and Gucci with an incomparable collection from the obscure and bizarre to iconic. Because of this, he is considered the vintage authority.

Valenti’s preternatural sense for collecting is also both unrivaled and ingeniously obsessive. He stole Vivienne Westwood’s infamous “Sex” shirt off of Sid Vicious himself, sold it at $3,800 and upon hearing that Tom Ford stepped down from Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche last year, Valenti feverishly bought of rolls of logoed Gucci wallpaper to outfit the bathrooms in his Miami home.

In the late ‘70s, Valenti started making accessories out of Saran wrap boxes and Styrofoam for Betsey Johnson. He caught the eye of Italian ready-to-wear company Fiorucci, who gave him his own department at their 59th street store in New York. In higher demand than ever, Valenti runs his own vintage showroom, Retro Couture on West 30th street, by appointment only. Valenti’s own line KV, inspired by his vintage couture collection, showcases an array of elegant bias cut jerseys, evening gowns and gabardine suits. Valenti even applied his unique expertise and satirical wit to his book Barbie: Doll, a pictorial book of Barbie modeling miniature garments from Valenti’s own collection to depict the evolution of fashion over the past 50 years.

Dubbed “the next Halston” and hailed as The King, Keni Valenti’s retro couture, with its legion of vintage worshippers, is an ever-present reminder that vintage fashion remains an indelible marker of history and culture.

Describe your childhood. What’s your favorite memory as a child?
The sun shining on my face and the sweet smell of flowers in the air, without a care in the world.

How did you get started designing?
I found myself locked in a cage with Betsey Johnson above the dance floor at the Mudd Club 1979.

What is your personal vision of beauty?
Hollywood glamour in the 1930s – 1940s

How has fashion changed since the ’80s?
Fashion is dead in the ‘00s.

What are your inspirations for your retro couture line?
To bring back Rome as the fashion capital of the world.

Any regrets you can share?
Not taking life so seriously.

Greatest highlight of your career?
Having 15 freestanding Keni Valenti shops in Japan.

How do you see your style evolving in the next few years?
Being true to myself.

What is the most prized piece in your collection?
Yves Saint Laurent ballgown from the Ballet Rouge Collection at Dior 1959.

– Mila Zuo

Reading by Lena, who has no idea this palm belongs to Keni Valenti.

1. Leadership and innovation based on intuition and enthusiasm – he will instinctively perceive trends and move in their direction with such great enthusiasm that the masses will think he’s in charge.

2. Has a temper, but doesn’t hold grudges. The best thing to do when he’s angry is duck and run and come back tomorrow when he’ll be over it.

3. The doubled life line shows robust good health and excellent stamina in any endeavor which interests him.  Lives life to the fullest – not the sort of person who will give up rich food in order to keep his cholesterol levels down!

4. A natural leader. He will lead  people into consensus, wanting everyone to be pleased with the results, rather than needing to command.  People will follow him for his enthusiasm.

5. Heart over everything. This is, perhaps, the most marvelous lover you will ever see!  He is emotionally devoted, loyal to a fault. Vastly sensuous, with a great desire to please and excellent stamina.

6. An extremely well-developed sense of touch, of the tactile senses. Warm hands both physically and metaphorically.


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