"Valvo grew up in a traditional Spanish/Italian family in Westchester County, New York where early on he developed a passion for oil painting and made costumes for his sisters' school projects," though his passion for the arts did not materialize into a career until later on. He once admitted that he didn't realize being a designer, "was a real profession." Valvo's father was an anesthesiologist and his mother a nurse, and Valvo envisioned a career as a plastic surgeon, volunteering his free time in the ER. Eventually, he turned to a degree in Fine Arts at Manhattanville College. He then spent a few years traveling in Europe, enriching himself in the endless culture and becoming proficient in several languages. He returned to the US and enrolled in the Parsons The New School for Design. Valvo began his professional career as ready-to-wear designer for Nina Ricci in Paris, and later spent time at Christian Dior. In 1989 he launched his own label, putting together a collection to show at the fall market in New York with only a few thousand dollars. His sportswear was a success among department stores, but his evening wear sparked interest in buyers at Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus, two stores he regularly sells at today. In response to demand from celebrity and VIP clientele, Valvo launched his Couture collection in 1998. This line has shown every year, twice a year, at New York Fashion Week in the tents at Bryant Park, since its inception, with the notable exception of Fall 2009's collection.