Last week I went to a preview of the Valentino: Master of Couture exhibition at Somerset House, and if you have already been to see the amazing exhibition I am sorry it took me so long to post. I have been debating whether or not to post as I couldn’t take my own images, and I have to be honest the ones provided are just a little blah and don’t show off this fantastic exhibition as I would have liked.
This is the first time I have been to an exhibition at Somerset House, which is strange really as I spend a lot of time there for fashion week and events throughout the year, but I have been looking forward to this exhibition celebrating Valentino’s 50 year career for a while, and it might not have wowed me like I would have liked but there were elements that really captured my interest.
Split into three sections, the first is a room sharing personal photographs of Valentino, his couture invites, and letters from the likes of Anna Wintour sharing how much they love him, while it was interesting to see I did find it a tad boring – I didn’t take anything away from it about Valentino, just that Anna Wintour like me has huge handwriting!!!
However, the second section ‘The Catwalk’ is incredible, showcasing more than 130 of Valentino’s hand-crafted haute couture designs, I loved the reversal of the visitors to the exhibition taking the place of the model and walking along the 60-metre catwalk to view the designs, which are sat like they are the audience.
It wasn’t just the layout that impressed me, it was nice wandering down the catwalk, but what I loved was that Somerset House resisted the urge to place these delicate couture gowns behind glass, instead you can get up close with the pieces, see the hand-beaded embroidery and really get a feel for the hours of work that went into each piece.
It was also nice to see the designs colour-coded by decade, ‘Mint’ for the 1950s, ‘mustard’ for the 1960s, all the way up to Ice for the 2010s, I did think they might have organised it in theme of clothing for instance an area for red carpet, day wear and bespoke, but the way the designs were curated together was refreshing.
However, the grouping and the numbered circles of the mannequins wrists did mean that I relied a little too much on the free brochure, which with its red-print I could barely read under the dimmed lighting, instead I made a note of the number and went back to the book over a cuppa.
There are a number of highlights from the exhibition, top of my list had to be seeing Julia Roberts Oscar gown from 2001, the classic black number has been turned away in the exhibition so you can see all the white ribbon detailing to the back. Another must see look is Princess Marie-Chantel of Greece’s pearl-encrusted ivory silk wedding gown, which has its own section it is so grand, seriously gorgeous. Also keep an eye out for designs worn by Anne Hathaway, Audrey Hepburn, and Jackie Kennedy.
Overall, if you love couture, love Valentino, and generally love getting up close with red carpet worthy looks then you will really enjoy this exhibition, if like me you also wanted to take a sense of who Valentino is then you might be a little disappointed, but I would say just for the catwalk section this exhibition is worth a trip.
Valentino: Master of Couture runs at Somerset House until March 3, 2013.
[Pics: courtesy of Somerset House/Peter Macdiarmid]