Today I was invited to join the fashion enthused media at the private showing of Valentino’s exhibition at Somerset House. This divine exhibition is one to remember, leaving me inspired in so many ways as to which gown I would pick to get married in (I’m thinking one of the pearly lacey ones!). If the curators of the exhibit just put these fantastic gowns on some mannequins and shoved me in a room with them I would be satisfied, however they really played with presentation and the core of Valentino, the brand.
The first room simply titled, Valentino, takes the visitor through the secret life of the brand and the Italian designer with unseen photographs, invitations for the couture catwalk shows, press cuttings and personal letters. These letters of congratulations for producing wondering collections or reaching another impressive anniversary were hand written by the rich and fabulous including Meryl Streep and Anna Wintour (who has surprisingly very very large hand-writing for such a petite woman). These cases of memories are elevated by cream wooden seats, representing the front row of a fashion show which later in the exhibition comes to life. In this room a large raised 3D flower is presented, Valentino’s recognisable brand symbol, with moving image projected onto it in a very delicate form. The symbol follows through the whole exhibition, reminding us what Valentino stands for.
Renowned design team Kinmonth Monfreda have created a catwalk setup in the next room, transforming Somerset House’s Embankment Galleries into a vibrant runway location. Decorated with lines of ‘reserved’ seating and colourful mannequins which displayed decades of collections, us as visitors played a reversed role. As the visitor walks down the sixty metre runway we observed and indulge as we admire the ‘invited’ mannequins from the 1950s to today. It is almost as if we have gone back in time and glamourous attendees are frozen as they take their seats for an exclusive catwalk show.
Each gown is a talking point. I think my friend was getting bored of me saying “ooo look at that one!” by the 100th time however it is hard not to. Because there is a strict no camera policy (which I admire for exclusivity reasons) I ended up rigorously sketching my favourites down all over my press release which is highly decorated now. I hope to turn these into some pretty pictures once I splash a bit of colour on them but its been a long day.
To excite the visitors some more they have presented a lace wedding gown who owns a whole room. Princess Marie-Chantal of Greece married her prince in 1995 in this pearl-encrusted ivory silk wedding gown, lucky thing. It looks so precious you almost have to whisper if you want to talk about it.
The exhibition caters for the modern eye by using digital technology and virtuality but with classic taste of Valentino’s history and respected design. We are not just appreciating great craftsmanship here but experiencing years of personal history, detail and people. Valentino: Master of Couture opens to the public tomorrow 29th November 2012 and runs until 3rd March at Somerset House.
To end the day myself and blogger Emma Griffiths sat down to a complementary glass of bubbles, just to top off the afternoon…..I love my job.
Above: Myself (left, holding bubbles) and Emma (right)