It’s nearly impossible to consider Italian fashion without the name Valentino entering the conversation. And after 50 years of holding court on the runway, it’s clear this is one conversation that’s far from over.
Valentino began celebrating this milestone anniversary earlier this year with a new store opening in LA and the reopening of its Milan flagship. A capsule collection of all-black accessories, Noir, continued the year’s special events and this week WWD celebrates the anniversary with a special edition that takes a look at the rich history of the Italian luxury house and its bright future ahead thanks to a major investment by Mayhoola, who in July purchased the Valentino Group.
Looking back to the brand’s early years—when the house was founded by its namesake Valentino Garavani—takes us back to the 1960s and the birth of ready to wear fashion. Yet while his French counterparts like Yves Saint Laurent ushered in an era of sexy cool and chic, Valentino built his line on beautifully crafted gowns, body-conscious silhouettes and luxury. And of course the development of his signature Red.
A new exhibition, Valentino: Master of Couture, at London’s Somerset House (from November 29 through March 3) pays tribute to the talented designer by showcasing more than130 exquisite haute couture designs. Divided into three sections; visitors will start with a private view of Valentino's world through photographs from his personal archive, offering an intimate portrait of the life of the master. The exhibition then unfolds into a couture fashion show where roles are reversed with visitors walking the catwalk to view a staggering one hundred and thirty Valentino haute couture designs.
The current incarnation of Valentino is in the hands of two young designers, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli, who had previously designed accessories for the label. The house continues to gain momentum as the designers, who have been in place since 2009, become more embedded in the Valentino story and continue to develop it further.
If one needs any further justification of the designing duo’s prowess, scan the floor for studded kitten heels, sandals and pumps, or check out any neighboring bags and there’s bound to be at least one Valentino- (or Valentino-inspired) Rockstud subtly representing the brand.