valentino master of couture
If the outdoor ice-rink and free Tim Walker and Henri Cartier-Bresson exhibitions weren’t enough to get you to Somerset House over the holiday season, Valentino has just sealed the deal. Opening tomorrow, London gets the first look at ‘Valentino: Master of Couture‘ – a comprehensive collection of couture, much of which has never been seen outside the Valentino atelier.

I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek at the collection today, and my heart skipped a million beats. Set over two floors by the Embankment entrance, you are first taken through mementoes from the intimate life of Valentino; personal photographs, letters (including a Vogue-embossed number from Anna Wintour herself), couture invitations, et al.

Walking up the spiral staircase you enter a 60-metre Catwalk area packed with over one-hundred of Valentino’s most exquisite designs. It is a sight you simply have to see (and if photographs were allowed, I would have rinsed through my battery). Highlights include a dress and velvet jacket/trouser combination worn by Audrey Hepburn, Jackie O’s 1968 wedding dress, as well as two iconic Oscar dresses of Anne Hathaway and Julia Roberts. Iconic in a whole different way? Princess Marie-Chantal of Greece’s pearl-encrusted ivory silk wedding gown. Designed with ten different kinds of lace, it sits at the bottom of the downward staircase and acts as a segue between the Catwalk and an enclosure of small textile examples that further pay homage to Valentino’s legacy and game-changing technique.

From Pagine (disks of organza silk piled to create a page effect – technique unique to the Valentino atelier) to Rose de volant (lengths of organza silk cut on the bias shaped to form open roses) to Sudellini (double charmeuse silk rolled an and sewn around a looped length of wool), this is the best-value couture class you will ever find.

Grace Kelly loved him, Sophia Loren loved him, and now – fashionista – now you will, too. I urge you to get your drappeggi-clad tush there before March 3rd.


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Admission £12.50, £9 concessions