Major Retrospective on the Life and Work of Fashion Designer Valentino to Open in London

A major new exhibition celebrating the life and work of Valentino will be on display at Somerset House in London between 29 November 2012 and 3 March 2013.

Valentino: Master of Couture’ will focus on the haute couture created by the Italian designer during his 50-year career. On display will be over 130 hand-crafted designs worn by women such as Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Grace Kelly, Sophia Loren and Gwyneth Paltrow. Highlights will include the vintage dress worn by Julia Roberts when she won an Academy Award in 2001, Jackie Onassis’s wedding dress from Valentino’s 1968 White Collection, and Princess Marie-Chantal of Greece’s pearl-encrusted ivory silk wedding gown from 1995.

Featuring dresses from the couture catwalk and red carpet events, as well as designs commissioned by private clients, the exhibition will bring together a comprehensive collection of couture, much of which has never been seen outside the Valentino atelier.

“Each of these designs has 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.”

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

The first room of the exhibition will delve into Valentino’s life featuring previously unseen personal photographs, couture invitations, and images of Valentino at work and play from his personal archive in Wideville, France. The Embankment Galleries will be transformed into a couture catwalk where each visitor takes the place of the model walking along a 60-metre runway to view the ‘audience’, all of whom will be dressed in Valentino Couture. Descending the stairs from the catwalk, visitors will be able to see Princess Marie-Chantal’s wedding dress made with 10 different kinds of lace. Beyond this will be a room dedicated to Valentino’s current passion, the Valentino Garavani Virtual Museum, which will allow visitors to explore Valentino’s legacy even further through interactive and multi media content. In the final room, visitors will be able to see behind the scenes at the atelier through a series of specially made films that show in minute detail the artistry of the couture techniques that go into making a Valentino gown.