Valentino Garavani, couturier, pioneer and iconic Italian designer is being celebrated for is 50 years of contributions to fashion with a exclusive show in London at the Somerset House. The exhibition runs from the 29 November 2012 – 3 March 2013, Daily 10.00-18.00 (Last admission 17.15), until 21.00 Thursdays (Last admission 20.15) Wednesday 12 & 19 December until 21.00 (Last admission 20.15), 24 & 31 Dec: 10.00-16.00, 25 & 26 Dec: closed, 1 Jan: 12.00-18.00.
Showcasing his works with the likes of the Julia Roberts Oscar gown, the piece custom made for Audrey Hepburn. The gallery, entitled: “Valentino: Master of Couture” features more than 130 pieces from a designer whose clients included Grace Kelly, Jackie Kennedy Onassis,Elizabeth Taylor and Princess Margaret.
“This major new exhibition celebrating the life and work of Valentino showcases over 130 exquisite haute couture designs worn by icons such as Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Grace Kelly, Sophia Loren and Gwyneth Paltrow in an exciting installation created specially for Somerset House.
Divided into three sections; visitors start with a private view of Valentino’s world through photographs from his personal archive, offering an intimate portrait of the life of the master. The exhibition then unfolds into a couture fashion show where roles are reversed with visitors walking the catwalk to view a staggering one hundred and thirty Valentino haute couture designs. Valentino: Master of Couture is a journey into the secretive world of Italian couture.
The final section unpicks the painstaking processes of crafting couture exemplified by the stunning wedding dress of Princess Marie Chantal of Greece, demonstrating the beauty of the work of les petites mains who sew each stitch by hand. In addition a specially commissioned group of films allows behind-the scenes access to the Valentino atelier, where the craft of couture is demonstrated in a series of fascinating samples. Finally, discover more about the man, the icon, by exploring the Valentino Garavani Virtual Museum.
From Valentino himself:
“I love England, I love to be in London and I hope to be able to come very often to do other exhibitions, other Valentino things in this beautiful city,” he said.
Besides the black velvet evening gown with white ribbons Roberts wore when she won the best actress Oscar and a delicate floral dress with green sash designed for Hepburn, the exhibition delves into Valentino’s personal letters and photographs, displays handcrafted couture gowns and has digital installations, including videos of his atelier.
Upon entering, visitors are greeted by a huge white flower installation with interactive projections and quirky display cases made of plush white upholstered chairs. A pale lilac carpet on the next level leads visitors towards a catwalk, where rows of white chairs are lined up amongst more than 130 pieces from Valentino’s couture collections.
“We want visitors to feel in the centre of things on the catwalk, so it’s a privileged catwalk in a sense…We hope it’s going to be a really pleasurable experience,” co-curator Alistair O’Neill told Reuters.
Mannequins, sporting blonde wigs in different hairstyles, are dressed in decadent evening gowns with ruffled floral details, in the designer’s signature red, as well as black, soft creams and animal prints. The exhibition took around a year and a half to assemble, said O’Neill, who co-curated the show alongside Patrick Kinmouth and Antonio Monfredo.
The collection also features sleek capes, brightly colored kaftans and chic day dresses which span Valentino’s work over the past 50 years.
“We wanted to be able to show something of this very rarefied world,” O’Neill said.
“It’s very normal for Mr. Valentino…but for us, it’s an amazing thing to step into.” (Reporting by Li-mei Hoang, editing by Paul Casciato)