By Charlotte
September 04, 2007 08:40 PM


Celebrating his 45th Anniversary in Rome this July with a blow-out weekend of events — (A gala at the Temple of Venus one night! Fireworks set off from the Colosseum the next!) — Valentino admitted, “It was a moment that will be impossible to repeat.” And so, despite pleas from anxious fashionistas around the globe, Valentino announced his retirement on Tuesday. “At this time, I have decided that is the perfect moment to say adieu to the world of fashion,” the designer, 74, said in a statement released to PEOPLE. “As the English say, I would like to leave the party when it is still full.” The couturier, who has dressed everyone from Sophia Loren to Julia Roberts, will design one last ready-to-wear collection, to be shown during Paris fashion week in October, and a final haute couture collection, scheduled for January. The label will continue under new design leadership. No doubt Valentino’s retirement will be a source of grief for many red carpet stars. “I want him to continue designing for 100 more years!” Anne Hathaway told PEOPLE during the festivities in Rome in July, calling his clothes, “elegant, whimsical and very powerful.” Uma Thurman agreed, telling PEOPLE that “when I wear his clothes, I feel privileged.” So, incidentally, did Valentino. “I have been very lucky to be able to do what I have loved all my life,” he said. “There can be few greater gifts than that.”