In 1989 Carmen Marc Valvo set out on a path that would unknowingly lead him to found his eponymous label and become one of 7th Avenue’s most steadfast independent brands. He has been exploring his soul’s desire to bring glamorous dressing to every woman’s life ever since. His elegant eveningwear is now a staple at Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom’s, Bergdorf Goodman, and countless other specialty stores nationally and internationally. TIME Magazine stood up and took notice of Carmen after his Fall 2005 collection in a feature story saying “While other designers seek to shock, Valvo’s creations shine in the marketplace.” His label now appears on couture gowns, bridal and cocktail dresses, fine furs, swimwear for Victoria’s Secret, sunglasses / eyewear, and home décor round out the designer’s extensive brand.
Along the way, his designs have ended up on some of the World’s most sophisticated, talented, and glamorous women. From HRH Princess Madeleine of Sweden, Queen Latifah, Beyonce, Katie Couric, Leona Lewis, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Vanessa Williams, Kate Winslet, Eva Longoria, Taylor Swift, and Mary J. Blige just to name a few, to fashionable films and television shows such as Confessions of a Shopaholic, Sex and the City II, Desperate Housewives, and Ugly Betty. Carmen has proven to be a dedicated scholar of his craft, carefully honing his skills to master the fine art of cutting and draping fabric to enhance the female physique so that every customer feels like a star on the red carpet when they walk into a room wearing one of his creations.
Valvo grew up in a traditional Spanish/Italian family in Westchester County, New York. His artistic spirit revealed itself early on, when he developed a passion for oil painting and crafted opulent medieval costumes for his sister for a school project. But it wouldn’t be until much later that he would even consider becoming a designer. “I honestly didn’t think it was a real profession,” he admits.
His father worked as an anesthesiologist and his mother as a nurse, so it is not surprising that they hoped he would one day join the medical profession, specifically as a plastic surgeon. But after volunteering to work a few sessions in the ER, he turned, instead, to a degree in Fine Arts at Manhattanville College. After spending a few years traveling in Europe — exploring the rich cultural tapestry and becoming proficient in several languages — a car accident would force Valvo to return to the United States but allowed him to set his sites on a career in fashion. After his recovery, he enrolled at Parsons School of Design in New York.
Valvo’s professional career began as a ready to wear designer for Nina Ricci in Paris, followed by a stint at Christian Dior. But by 1989 he was ready to launch his own label. With only a few thousand dollars, Valvo fearlessly pulled together a collection to show to department and specialty stores at the fall market in New York. His sportswear was an instant success and was bought into several top stores, but it was his eveningwear, his true passion, that captured the hearts of buyers at both Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus.
Having established a solid reputation with his Collection line, Valvo launched Carmen Marc Valvo Couture in 1998, in response to overwhelming demand from his celebrity and VIP clients, who wanted original Carmen Marc Valvo creations that would set them apart from the fashion pack. The Couture collection is presented twice a year during the New York Fashion Week. These lavish presentations highlight the extraordinary craftsmanship and painstaking hand-detailing that place the Couture collection in a league of its own.
Carmen is an Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF) Ambassador and has given both his time and money to the organization, which has helped raise Millions of dollars for Colon Cancer Research. Carmen has always utilized his designs to help with many causes over the years, but especially the NCCRA (National Colorectal Cancer Research Alliance). As a colon cancer survivor, Carmen Marc Valvo has been working with Katie Couric, since she partnered with 7th on Sixth in 2004, to bring attention and support of research of this deadly disease. His efforts, on behalf of the organization, were honored at a gala in March 2006 in New York where Carmen received the first ever Advocate Award from Katie Couric. In 2008 Carmen appeared with his dear friend Vanessa Williams in a national broadcast and print public service campaign to encourage early screening for colon cancer.
And while Valvo’s parents may have been on the right track when they imagined their son making women more beautiful (albeit through a career in plastic surgery), they could have hardly imagined he would realize this dream with a needle and thread rather than a scalpel. But it is Valvo’s superb tailoring, understanding of fit issues and masterful detailing that have distinguished him from his peers. Women’s Wear Daily perhaps said it best “Over the years, the designer has demonstrated the talent to do it all.”