Valentino goes Asian in his French chateau

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Fashion magnate Valentino Garvani has made a career out of design and style, so it's no surprise that's he's paid great attention to both of those aspects when it comes to his eight-bedroom home near Paris, which he recently opened up to Architectural Digest.

The 17th-century home, dubbed Château de Wideville, has quite the history: It was built by Louis XIII's finance minister and eventually served as a residence to one of Louis XIV's mistresses.

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Despite the fact the house is located in France and Valentino is Italian, it's Chinese design that has had the biggest influence on the décor, the 80-year-old — known to most only as "Valentino" — tells Architectural Digest (in true dramatic fashion): "When I was in Beijing for the first time, in 1993 I saw a collection of old Chinese costumes, and it was one of the great emotional moments of my life."

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The designer bought the home in 1995 and worked with interior decorator Henri Samuel to recreate each room together, completing their project the following year, two months before Samuel died in his 90s. "I am quite particular and love to put my nose everywhere. Even if I admire the decorator, I have to say my opinion," Valentino says of his collaboration on the home. His penchant for Asian items has made the bright "winter garden" his favorite room. It has views of the topiary garden and is accented with a floral wool carpet, and figures dressed in Chinese costumes and displayed on golden wall brackets.

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Another one of Valentino's top spots on the property is actually a separate structure, the three-story "pigeonnier," which translates literally to "pigeon house." The building, trimmed with limestone and brick, was originally built for doves, but is now a place Valentino uses to relax, read, and listen to music. Valentino gave plenty of thought to decorating the pigeoneer, fitting the windows with hand-painted shades and filling the space with art, bookcases, and custom-made button-tufted velvet chairs.

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"You couldn't put in the usual 18th-century European furniture and objects, like in the château — it wouldn't feel right," he says. "I said, 'No, I want to do something special.'" Considering he's been designing astronomically priced fashions for more than five decades, it's probably not the first time he's said that …

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The October issue of Architectural Digest hits newsstands on Tuesday, September 11.

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