Valentino: The Master of Couture at Somerset House
In 1959, at 11 Via Condotti in Rome, the house of Valentino was born. The man who has every woman’s need down to a T, is known for his particular love of the colour red and his darling pugs. We are now able to see over 130 of this man’s greatest pieces, celebrating his prolonged, 50-year career in haute couture.
On a Wednesday morning, deep in the Embankment Galleries of Somerset House, The Upcoming, amongst others, were allowed a preview of this magnificent exhibition. The legend himself captured the audience with his bronzed glow and authentic Italian accent. Valentino commented: “I love England; I love London and I wish to come back very often”, whilst holding all of his audience in awe. The petit Valentino stood calm and collected whilst a myriad of press went snap happy at him. Behind Valentino was the first part of the exhibition, showcasing unseen personal photos, couture invitations and special images of him at work.
One level up and we entered our very own catwalk, a 60-metre runway. The audience took the form of mannequins which represented the likes of Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, Jacqueline Kennedy and the rest of Valentino’s elite clientele. Each mannequin was dressed in one of the many famous pieces, many of which have never been seen outside the Valentino atelier. Find yourself lost in the exquisite attention to detail and refinery, as each dress has been “crafted diligently by hand, taking hours, sometimes days to complete” for every client of Valentino.
After feeling a little overwhelmed, to say the least, we descended to the final parts of the exhibition. The finale places you centimetres away from the pearl-encrusted ivory silk wedding gown worn by Princess Marie-Chantal of Greece. Being this close to an elaborate piece of couture allows you to see the ten different kinds of lace used, as well as the various sizes of pristine pearls, yet again showing how much the house of Valentino requires complete perfection in all their pieces.
The final room lets you see behind the closed doors of the Valentino world, which shows “Behind the scenes at the atelier” through a series of specially made films showing couture techniques – most famously, the budellini, which is unique to Valentino.
If you plan to see any exhibitions, make sure this is top of your list. We have to say, this is one of the best we’ve ever seen and it’s only on between 29th November and 3rd March 2013. There is also a pop-up store with various Valentino pieces, including a “private view” Master of Couture book.
Prices: £12.50, £9 for concessions.
Please visit the Somerset House website for more information.