A while ago I posted a rather over excited piece about the much-anticipated Valentino: Master of Couture exhibition at Somerset House. At last all those hours of wishing, waiting and wondering came to an end yesterday morning when Mr Valentino himself unveiled the exhibition to a selection of London press. Actually that’s not entirely true. I got to sneak a peak at the exhibition a couple of weeks ago thanks to the fact that my course tutor at Central Saint Martins just so happens to be one of the curators behind it! When my classmates and I saw the exhibition a fortnight before the opening, it was undeniably and let’s face it, unsurprisingly impressive. Well in it’s full, public ready incarnation it was nothing short of majestic.
Having had a not-so-early night at the British Fashion Awards afterparty on Tuesday, few things would have enticed me out of bed the following morning. Obviously, vintage Valentino couture is one of them. After a few charming words from the man himself, standing beneath an enormous sculpture of his signature rose illuminated with transforming projections, we were unleashed on an array of ensembles so dazzling it was almost overwhelming. As the exhibition’s curator (our course tutor) Alistair O’Neil explained, they wanted to create a display modeled on a traditional couture catwalk but with the Valentino clad mannequins artfully arranged in the seating area while the visitor walks the runway. I’m currently grappling with a curation project for Uni and frankly, I have no idea how anyone comes up with an inventive concept for an exhibition but luckily, they manage it! The Valentino looks are arranged thematically in groupings such as “animal print”, “florals” and “cut lace”. I think the decision to do this, rather than display them chronologically, was inspired as it really reiterates how consistent the handwriting of the house has remained over more than fifty years. But of course, at the time all I could really think about was the sheer gorgeousness of each and every one of the dresses.
With no glass cases to contend with, you can really get up close to the garments to have a good old gawp at the painstakingly intricate detailing and the fact that a human being can create something quite as exquisite as Valentino couture gowns never fails to astound me.The craftsmanship and team of skilled individuals behind the clothes is something that Maison Valentino has always prized itself on highly and Master of Couture at Somerset House really brought to light beautifully. After passing through the couture catwalk space which, trust me, will take a while, you return downstairs to be floored by the spectacle of Princess Marie Chantal of Greece’s wedding dress (oh to be a Valentino bride!) before moving in to an area devoted to the couture techniques used to create the stunning ensembles displayed upstairs. The final display is an incredible elabourate cape demonstrating the complex ‘paginet’ technique and reminding you that the sartorial spectacle you’ve just witnessed is as much down to his army of skilled seamstresses as it is to Mr V.
The past couple of years have been fantastic for fashion exhibitions but the combination of jaw-dropping frocks and insider insight makes this one a firm favourite. Valentino: Master of Couture is on at Somerset House until March 2013 and I highly, HIGHLY recommend you go and see it!
Love Ella. X
Images courtesy of Peter MacDiarmid
1) Whistles Narcisse tiered lace dress, £195, click here to buy
2) Valentino studded calf hair pumps, £700, click here to buy
3) Nicholas Kirkwood suede and glitter loafers, £460, click here to buy
4) Carven wool crepe skirt, £240, click here to buy
5) Carven wool crepe jacket, £430, click here to buy
6) Stella McCartney Cloche hat, £185, click here to buy
7) Hoss Intropia frog brooch, £19, click here to buy
8) Mulberry Bayswater in burgundy, £795, click here to buy
9) J Brand 501 courduroy skinny jeans, £205, click here to buy
10) Theory Christelle sweater, £235, click here to buy
Love Ella. X
Ok, before you click away in disgust at my sheer idocy give me a second to explain the title of this post. I’m not saying that “glam goth” is, in itself, an unexpected trend for Autumn/Winter. We expect it from the likes of Givenchy, Gareth Pugh, Rick Owens and Anne Demeulemeester. Frankly, it’s not exactly shocking on the catwalk at Gucci. The darkly opulent brocades, louche velvets and Morticia Adams ‘do’s offered up by Frida Gianni managed to have a hint of Halloween about them while still exuding the brand’s signature high fashion luxury. But oil slick black leather, stained lips and subversion from the likes of Valentino, Diane Von Furstenberg and Mulberry (above)? Well I challenge anyone to claim that’s not a little surprising.
I can’t help but feel it’s going to be a fabulous autumn. Especially thanks to this latest snippet of sartorial news which sees three of my all time favourite things – fashion exhibitions, Valentino and Somerset House – come together for a three month celebration of one of the world’s leading couturiers.
One of the best things about blogging is that you can write about pretty much anything and everything that takes your fancy. The only problem is choosing what to write about. As I’m sure you know all too well, the fashion industry moves as breakneck pace with new designers, collections, stores, websites and magazines launching every single day. Much as I’d love to post about all of it, attempting to do so would not only give me a nervous breakdown but probably be rather confusing for you lot too. So in an attempt to focus on what interests me – and hopefully you – the most, I’ve decided to start a few more regular features, the first of which I’ll introduce right now… Regardless of whether you do it on the internet, the high street or in Selfridges designer galleries, shopping is a wonderful thing. However God did not create all shops equal, and some are quite frankly a lot prettier than others. That my friends, is where La Petite Shop Snooper comes in. Over the past few months I’ve been lucky enough to do a fair bit of blog-related travelling and the fabulous shops I encountered along the way inspired me to continue scouting out the world’s most beautiful boutiques and coolest concept stores. First up, the one and only Colette Paris.
As I mentioned in my latest Paris travel diaries, despite spending a grand total of nine weeks out of the past year and a half in the French fashion capital, until very recently I hadn’t actually visited Colette. Suffice to say, I’ve now realised that for the past twenty years there has been a huge, Colette shaped hole in my life. How I’ve survived so long without having pilgrimaged to the Parisian mecca of stylishness is quite frankly a mystery to me. To those who haven’t been, this might sound a little dramatic, but when you see these shots of Mary Katrantzou sitting alongside Alaia in the stores’ exquisite, minimalist setting you’re guaranteed to change your mind. As with most really impressive shops (and a few distinctly non-impressive ones too), photography is strictly forbidden inside Colette so in order to take these snaps I had to get in touch with their head office and request permission. Not only were the press team extremely helpful and not at all intimidating (as impeccably stylish French people with seriously cool jobs sometimes are), being able to flash my press pass every time a sales assistant tried to confiscate my camera was pretty darned satisfying too.
Never in my life have I encountered anywhere quite so painfully chic as Colette. Think high fashion meets Tokyo pop culture cool with Christopher Kane and Carven in the window and everything from photography books to retro sweets on the ground floor. After a delicious bite in the ultra modern basement restaurant you can simply trot up to level one for a carefully edited selection of the world’s hottest fashion and beauty brands… what more could an English girl in Paris ask for?
|I see Tavi, Susie, Bryan and Tommy… Could there be an Ella La Petite cartoon on the cards..?
Colette is located at 213 Rue Saint-Honoré 75001 Paris. If you haven’t been yet then I command you to beg, borrow or steal the funds for your Eurostar ticket asap and if you have, then there’s no harm in visiting again.
Love Ella. X