Valentino with models. 2007. Lorenzo Agus
S/S 1969. Ruven Affenader
Valentino with Natalia Vodianova 2012. Cathleen Naundorf.
A/W 92/93 Haute Couture. Worn by Julia
Roberts to 2001 Academy Awards.
A/W 02/03 worn by Anne Hathaway
2011 Academy Awards
I am muchly excited about heading to London on the 28th for a work thing, however I am most excited about using the trip as an excuse to hopefully find a couch to surf on (I am lucky to have many a friend in our lovely capital to call on) and get myself to Valentino: Master of Couture at Somerset House. The biographical film about his career in the secretive world of couture gave hime the esteemed title of The Last Emperor, however as far as I am concerned he is THE emperor. Now I am discounting the early greats of couture such as Cristobal Balenciaga, Monsieur Dior and Yves Saint Laurent but Valention and his work have had the most impact on me and my obsession with all things fashion related because his shows have been around in my existence. Don't get me wrong, I would love to be transported to decades past to feel the effects his contemporaries had on the world, but Valentino's legacy has been a part of my history.
The world of haute couture, it's ateliers and the unsung heroes in the petites mains have never failed to intrigue me, and I have oft dreamt of being a society girl invited to the intensely private shows simply because I am from the right family, or because my mother has attended them for years, or because I am an heiress to a vast European fortune and my trust fund would be much appreciated in the back pockets of the houses showing. Oh to be present at one of these shows... And then at a press appointment that follows! You see Ready-to-Wear shows never fail to get my little heart beating every season, telling the world how she will be dressing for the upcoming season, but haute couture is my raison d'être so to speak... You see these shows are the designers' way of showcasing their very talents, their innermost creativity. It id the platform onto which they unleash their innermost thoughts and workings. These presentations are not there to set trends or to be commercial, but to showcase the talents of the centuries old ateliers. Not only this but in order to have a slice of the pie, one must be happy to part with tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds in order to don their wares. And of this world Valentino was King!
Since the sixties he has known exactly why women want to wear, and he built a hugely successful empire on this, as well as a clientele filled with Princesses, Presidents wives and Hollywood royalty, so loyal that they went back season after season. Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Grace Kelly, Sophia Loren and Gwyneth Paltrow are just some of the women that have clamoured to be dressed by him.
The exhibit boasts over 130 of his haute couture designs, and is split into a number of sections for you to immerse yourself in... There are photographs from his personal archive that have never before been aired giving you the chance to delve into the man himself and get a clearer understanding of his character. As well as this there is a catwalk for visitors to walk filled with his iconic designs and films helping to outline the process of the painstaking quest of producing a haute couture dress. For those uninitiated in this secretive and closed world it will be unmissable, just so you can begin to understand the most exclusive and elusive private members club in fashion. I am most excited about seeing the collection of iconic red dresses, that he became renowned for that closed each of his shows, and became a factor of his Ready to Wear collections too because they were as much Valentino as his iconic tan and gang of pet pugs. Here is to the last emperor and his legacy...
images courtesy of somerethouse.org.uk and vogue.com