“This is a mind-blowing collection”. “I REALLY want this one!” “It is less red than I expected.” These are just a few comments from the guests strolling down the catwalk of Valentino’s London exhibition. Master of Couture is a tribute to the designer and his stunning works of art. It showcases 138 haute couture, as well as ready to wear, hand-made dresses dating from 1959 to 2012.
Master of Couture takes visitors on a journey through the decades; Valentino’s designs are timeless or ahead of their times. We come across pieces originating in the 50s but only realised in the 90s and his designs from the 70s are innovative enough to be presented today. Mr Garavani treats his dresses with the same affection and gallantry as he does the women who wear them, which is why his catwalk display is so extraordinary: it epitomises over 50 years of love for the craft.
Guests are led through the basements of Somerset House to enter the world of couture. The first room displays the extensive network of Valentino’s contacts through his correspondence including a Christmas card from Prince Charles and his sons, invitations to events, and photographs with his celebrity friends and clients. The dresses are arranged as an audience of a fashion show where the guests, rather than models, walk down the runway. The display finishes with a stunning wedding dress of Princess Marie-Chantal of Greece, which was a result of four months of work by 25 seamstresses using 10 different types of lace in its creation.
The exhibition does more than just show off a talent and vision of one man behind the brand. It unveils the secrets behind the intricate couture techniques invented or perfected by Valentino such as Budellini or Incrostazioni (yes, they all have Italian or French names!) and the crew meticulously applying them to bring Valentino’s creative visions into life. An absolute treat for fashion lovers or a very slow afternoon for dress-oblivious boyfriends.
Embankment Galleries, South Wing, Somerset House, Strand, London WC2R 1LA
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7845 4600
Opening hours: 29 November 2012 – 3 March 2013
Daily 10.00-18.00 (Last admission 17.15), until 21.00 Thursdays (Last admission 20.15)
Admission: £12.50/£9 concessions