Valentino: Master of Couture – at Somerset House

Valentino Haute Couture – Strapless taffeta evening gown, worn by Anne Hathaway in 2011 to host the 83rd Academy Awards

One would have thought that when Valentino Garavani, known to the fashion world as Valentino, retired from his esteemed fashion house in 2007 after a 50-year career, that he might have stopped working. But that was the last thing on “The Last Emperors” mind. Since his retirement he’s actually been busier than ever launching the Valentino Garavani Virtual Museum, designing ballet costumes for the New York City Ballet, while keeping a schedule of countless appearances including being seen front row at the S/S 2013 Valentino fashion show. Now just when we thought the designers schedule was about to slow, we’ll soon to be treated to Valentino: Master of Couture a retrospective featuring the haute couture work of the designers career opening November 29, 2012 thru March 3, 2013 at Somerset House, in London.

Valentino Haute Couture – Evening dress in black velvet with ribbons of white tape, worn by Julia Roberts to the 73rd Academy Awards in 2001

The exhibition, will showcase over 130 hand-crafted designs worn by Icons like Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Grace Kelly, Sophia Loren, Penelope Cruz, Gwyneth Paltrow and Julia Roberts. A master designer and creator of exquisite, beautiful clothes, this is Valentino as he’s never been seen before.

Valentino Haute Couture – Evening gown in silver grey silk, lace and organdie, worn by Claudia Schiffer as a wedding gown in the 1995 Haute Couture show in Paris

Featuring dresses from the couture catwalk and red carpet, as well as designs commissioned by private clients, this exhibition brings together a comprehensive collection of couture, much of which has never been seen outside the Valentino atelier. The exhibition gives visitors a rare glimpse behind the closed doors of Valentino’s world.

Valentino Haute Couture – Evening gown in white-ivory taffeta hand painted with large red flower shoots, appeared in Spring/Summer 1998 ad campaign shot by Michael Thompson

“Each of these designs have a beautiful story,” says Valentino. “The atelier crafted each so diligently by hand, taking hours, sometimes days to complete. The details are incredibly intricate, though outside the runway shows and events, the dresses have rarely been seen, so to be able to showcase these designs at Somerset House, where they can be seen in great detail by the public, is very unique.”

Valentino Haute Couture – Evening dress with a Boldini-style line consisting of two chiffon dresses, appeared in the Spring 2005 ad campaign, worn by model Nadja Auermann, shot by Mario Testino

The exhibition design for Valentino: Master of Couture has been created specially for Somerset House by internationally renowned design team Kinmonth Monfreda, long time collaborators of Valentino, and realized in collaboration with Valentino and Giancarlo Giammetti and curated by Alistair O’Neill for Somerset House with Patrick Kinmonth and Antonio Monfreda.


Dates:  29 November 2012 – 3 March 2013 Opening Hours: 10am – 6pm Daily and Thursdays until 9pm

Address: Embankment Galleries, Somerset House, Strand, London, WC2R 1LA  Admission: £12.50, Concessions £9  For additional Information:

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