“Mainbocher unquestionably made the Duchess of Windsor look like a lady; for the same price, I could make her look like a queen.” -Valentina
The 20th Century’s most successful independent female American couturier (she never did Ready To Wear), Valentina easily made more money than her male American competitors , Charles James and Mainbocher but remains largely unknown. A former dancer , the Russian emigre brought a theatrical, body-conscious elegance and modern minimalism to American fashion. Her clients included Kathryn Hepburn and neighbor Greta Garbo, rumored to be her husband George Schlee’s mistress for two decades–an affair which lasted until his death in 1964.
Valentina, jealously referred to Garbo as “that vampire” or simply “the fifth floor.” Once, when the two women met by chance in the building’s lobby, Valentina shuddered and crossed herself.