Rudolph Valentino Born in 1895 in Castellanata, Italy, Rudolph Valentino arrived in New York at the age of 18 in 1913. By 1921, following a lead role as Sheik Ahmed Ben Hassan in The Sheik, Valentino had achieved superstardom. His exotic, Mediterranean look was the polar opposite of the fair complexioned, blue-eyed, all-American image that dominated Hollywood at the time, and Valentino, who oozed sensuality and Italian sophistication, quickly became known as the “Latin Lover.” In addition to his smouldering, handsome looks, it’s undeniable that the star’s incredibly fashion-forward wardrobe was instrumental in cementing his status as a sex symbol. In fact, Valentino’s avant-garde sense of style effectively turned middle-class dressing on its head, and at least four major fashion trends can be credited to this style innovator. Following the success of The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, gaucho pants were introduced to American men, who previously viewed baggy clothing as effeminate. The icon also had a hand in removing the stigma associated with wristwatches. When they were first introduced, watches were perceived as a feminine accessory by American males due to their resemblance to bracelets. Finally, after the debut of The Sheik, Valentino’s perfectly slicked-back hair was so copied that men who wore their hair in this manner were known as Vaselinos and guys who were players were referred to as being “Sheiks.” When Valentino died at age 31 in 1926, some 100,000 people swarmed the streets of New York, leading to mass hysteria among female fans and rioting as the public swarmed the funeral home. Dress The Valentino Way. Never photographed looking sub-par, Rudolph Valentino’s Italian heritage was evident in his knack for always being the most elegantly dressed man in the room. A gentleman through and through, when his wardrobe was auctioned off following his death, rumour has it that it included some 50-odd suits. From business suits to lounge suits, Palm Beach suits, formal dress suits, and even a grey corduroy hunting suit, Valentino had a suit for every occasion. In order to cop this legend’s look, you’ll, therefore, need at least one fits-like-a-glove tailored suit in your closet. When he wasn’t spotted in a suit, Valentino favoured either tailored slacks or gauchos and white vests. In his downtime, ever a glamorous Italian, Valentino kicked back in sumptuous dressing gowns, including one with a paisley pattern that was lined with white fur. In fact, this celluloid seducer’s love of luxury so completely pervaded his style that all of his handkerchiefs were personalised, his briefs were silk, his rings and cuff links were set with precious or semi-precious stones, and his pocket watches and cigarette cases inlaid with diamonds. The lesson to be learned here is to not be afraid of incorporating unusual elements into your wardrobe. Finally, to really nail Valentino’s look, never go anywhere without a hat. For a tasteful modern spin on Valentino’s dapper Italian style, try this warm-weather, Mediterranean-resort-appropriate white blazer from Zara and slick your hair back or part it cleanly to one side.