Valentino: Master of Couture at Somerset House

Categorised as STUFF., STYLE.

Valentino with models, 2007 © Lorenzo Agius @ www.aandrphotographic.co.uk

©Peter Macdiarmid

The Hallmark holiday we know as Christmas is fast approaching, and Somerset House is providing plenty of shit to keep you entertained. This winter, Somerset is host to Valentino: Master of Couture, a major new exhibition celebrating 50 years of haute couture created by legendary designer, Valentino Garavani. This unique exhibition, curated by Alistair O’Neill with Patrick Kinmonth and Antonio Monfreda, has been realised with the assistance of Valentino himself, despite his retirement in 2008.

The exhibition is divided into three areas. The first room houses cases of unseen personal photographs, letters from celebs, press cuttings, sketches and invitations to couture shows. Keep your eyes peeled for an insanely cheesy family photo of Prince Charles, Wills and Harry, sent to Valentino as a Christmas card.

Moving upstairs, you find yourself on a 60 metre catwalk. The audience either side of you consists of 137 mannequins dressed head to toe in Valentino couture spanning 50 years. Many of the gowns are on loan from private collections, and have never been seen before outside of the atelier. The couture is arranged into themes rather than chronologically, highlighting Valentino’s timelessness –the earlier pieces are just as wearable today (but only if you’re crapping out money).

The final area provides a rare insight into the production of couture techniques, such the iconic Valentino rose, displaying both fabric samples and specially made video footage from the Valentino atelier.

No matter your interest – be it fashion, art or even celebrity culture – Valentino: Master of Couture is well worth a visit. Yes, the £12.50 admission fee (£9 concessions) may be a tad steep, but fashion exhibitions with this much range and context are few and far between. And, while you’re there, why not check out the free Tim Walker: Story Teller exhibition, or injure yourself on the ice-skating rink.

29 November – 3 March www.somersethouse.org.uk

Jihane Dyer

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