The coveted “V” of Valentino by Mario Valentino has stood for impeccable leather craftsmanship since 1952.

Dedicated to artistry and bold innovation, designer Mario Valentino took the skills he learned from a family steeped in the Italian leather tradition and elevated them to an art form. For over 60 years, his high-fashion designs have been cherished by famous fashionistas and some of the top players in the industry. Today, the brand he lovingly built continues his commitment to the finest Italian leather craftsmanship and cutting-edge design through gorgeous handbags and footwear.

Next: Origins


Mario Valentino was born with a passion and talent for leather in his blood. The son of a shoemaker from Naples, Valentino learned the trade at an early age from his father who created custom footwear for high-end clients.

After high school, he began reselling leather in Naples. Then, following a tour in the Italian military, Mario decided to launch his own footwear and leather goods company under the Valentino trademark. But rather than copying the classic shoes of his father or the commonplace cardboard design of the time, Mario set his sights on designing elegant and innovative new looks for the most fashionable women of the day. His vision was a success and resulted in original creations that were controversial, cutting-edge, and daring.

Next: Headline grabbing shoes

Headline grabbing shoes

Mario quickly became famous as one of the top couture footwear designers in the world. His break-through success came with the creation of his coral sandal, a daring design that won him the cover of French Vogue in 1956, a spot at the Bally Shoes Museum in Zurich and the Design Museum in Copenhagen. But he didn’t stop there. Mario was known for taking chances and creating provocative statements with designs like a spiked stiletto and one of the first versions of the now-ubiquitous moccasin.

Next: Famous Fans

Famous Fans

During the height of his fame, Mario earned praise and admiration from some of the top stars of the day. Liz Taylor, Ava Gardner, Marcello Mastroianni and Catherine Deneuve were just a few of his devoted clients. But his biggest fan was no less than American Royalty, Jackie O., who commissioned Mario to create custom designs for her now iconic ensembles.

When it came to fashionable, high-quality leather footwear and handbags, there was only one label that would do—Valentino.

Next: Top Designers

During the years of strong success between the 90s and 70s, renowned fashion photographers like Helmut Newton, Robert Mapplethorpe, and Guy Bourdin also worked with the designer to create images that perfectly captured the artistry, creativity, and sensuality of Mario Valentino’s high-fashion designs.

Next: Legacy

Leather craftsmanship that lives on.

Sixty years after Mario brought his vision to life, Valentino shoes and bags continues to embody the best in high-quality craftsmanship. Mario passed away in 1991, but his legacy lives on in each painstakingly selected piece of leather, each perfectly executed stitch, and each design that continues to set the standard for quality and fashion.

Read more about Valentino shoes and leather goods craftsmanship.