21 January 2013


On the 10th January i hot (well, actually cold because London was freezing) footed it over to Somerset House, with ticket in hand, to have a look around Valentino: Master of Couture exhibition.

"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." (Somerset House on Valentino: Master of Couture, 2012)

I wasn't really sure what to expect as i'd only been to one other exhibition at Somerset House, Tim Walker: Story Teller, and that was a mere two months prior. Although i was thoroughly impressed with the Tim Walker exhibition it's safe to say that i was blown away by Valentino.

As soon as i walked into the first room, there was an overwhelming sense of intimacy and personality; i felt as though i was being allowed into someone's private home. I knew i was going to enjoy what's to come when i read this quote from the man himself:

"I get inspired by the close complicity that exists between a woman and her clothes. Her clothes are like secret friends or allies, they are not worn because they are in fashion but because they make her feel unique and confident.
A woman needs to feel attractive.
The essence of true style is not simply about looking good; it's about finding clothes that perfectly match one's character. Clothes which reflect who you are and hence provide the perfect link with the exterior world."
- Valentino Garavani

After passing through the first room and investigating all the memorabilia on show - vintage catwalk invitations, personal photographs, sketches and letters of awe and gratitude - you ascend a swirling staircase into the jackpot: a room filled with beautiful Valentino numbers. You enter a long corridor style room resembling a catwalk, with rows of cream chairs lining the sides.

The mannequins adorned with the beautiful, often glittering, gowns are set up in a mix of sitting, standing, talking, leaning poses to give them life and to give the appearance of guests attending a lavish affair, that has either just let out or is about to begin. However, it appears as though you are the main event. You walk though the room right up the middle on a catwalk like walkway.

Selected chairs were enhanced with labels showing names of infamous Valentino clients, guests, customers and celebrities: from Anne Hathaway to Jackie O, from Liza Minnelli to Madonna.

The setting was beautiful with atmospheric lighting, similar to a catwalk show, however some garments could have done with a little more light to truly show the delicate detail. I also wasn't too fond of the way in which the dresses were numbered; they jumped, in chunks, from one side to the other which was hard to follow, it would have made more sense, for the viewer, to go up one side of the room and come down the other not jump around. They could also have been ordered by date made or date worn which would have given more character to the collection on show.

The Number 36 dress shows two floaty pieces of fabric attached at the top, middle of the bodice and then they're allowed to flow free from the dress in a V  shape in the front. Recently Evans showcased some of their new season collection on This Morning and a coral and cream tunic top mirrored this style with the loose fabric. It just shows how things come back in fashion.

My favourite numbers were 28, 29, 25, 51, 50, 52 & 54.

After eyeing up the beauty in the catwalk room you then descend a similar curling staircase to be met with the most beautiful wedding dress that certainly deserves to be set apart from the rest. It's a grand, lace number with a flowing lace train with delicate butterflies built into it. It was heavily lit to emphasise every tiny detail of the beautiful work involved and the scene is set with stairs in front of the mannequin as though 'she's' about to descend.

Overall, this was a beautiful exhibition and you should definitely attend if you get the chance. It runs until March 3rd and tickets are available to book online from Somerset House.


All images sourced from Google Images.

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