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In July 2007, a three-day extravaganza was held in Rome to honor Valentino's 45 years in fashion. Two months later, Valentino retired, but he says he still wakes up with visions of a dress in his mind. "I love to draw. I love to design," he says. "When I am alone in my room, when I am alone somewhere, I still make drawings."

Looking back on his career, Valentino says he can finally admit one thing to himself. "Finally today I can say it—I am proud of what I did," he says. "But I am proud, too, to stop at the right moment, when the room was full of people."

Still, Valentino says he has one more dream to achieve. "I always see ballets in my mind," he says. "I would love to design for the theater."

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