Valentino Garavani has been doing a lot of celebrating of late. There was his 45th anniversary exhibit at the Ara Pacis museum in Rome in 2007, followed by a riotous documentary on his last year pre-retirement [The Last Emperor, 2008], the unveiling of a digital museum & archive late 2011, and now an exhibition celebrating his half-century in fashion has opened at London’s Somerset House, on view through March 3rd, 2013. Valentino: Master of Couture features over 130 haute couture dresses from throughout his illustrious and impossibly glamorous career, over 2/3rds of which have never been heretofore displayed publicly. There is Julia Roberts’ infamous 2001 oscar gown (from the 1992 couture collection), and Jackie Kennedy Onassis’ gown from her 1968 wedding to Greek shipping heir Aristotle Onassis. Countless others worn by some of the 20th (and 21st) century’s most visible and stylish women round out the selection, accompanied by personal photos and paper ephemera from the house’s archives. Fashion show invites, handwritten notes, and select behind-the-scenes video footage allow a unique glimpse into Valentino’s rarefied professional-and personal- world.
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