Imagine this; a luxurious catwalk, surrounded on either side by rows of plush chairs, each bearing the name-card of a famous fashionista, (Kate Moss, Gwyneth Paltrow and Giselle to name just a few). But it is the mannequins situated amongst the rows which really capture your attention - they are adorned in the most fabulous garments one can only dream of. A sea of silks and fur and velvet line either side of the catwalk, and you feel as if you are at Milan fashion week.
However, you are in London - the Somerset House Valentino Exhibition to be precise. CreateVoice was offered a fascinating tour of the exhibition by one of the curators, Alistair O'Neill, and we jumped at the chance to view this glamorous collection.
I had no idea about the amount of time, effort and and money that goes into each couture garment. The curator explained how the process of making each handcrafted piece takes place in the atelier- a workshop tucked away from the prying eyes of the media. Inside the atelier the seamstresses sew each garment by hand; an example of how painstaking the process is was when a pretty pink silk panel was pointed out by the curator. Each panel takes a skilled seamstress half an hour to sew, but it takes hundreds of these individual panels to create the ultimate garment. Alongside the time involved, the beautiful materials used to create each garment means that the cost of couture is tens of thousands of pounds a piece.
But back to the exhibition. What blew me away was the sheer decadence of each stunning dress; they really are pieces of art. The world of couture is a million miles away from trend lead, mass produced fashion. The dresses on show were pieces of history, an epitome of an era. There were several key themes running through the catwalk exhibition; flowers in particular are favoured by Mr Valentino. The floral motifs that really inspired me were the intricate, innocent little daisies stitched to my personal favourite dress; a 1960's cream shift worn my Audrey Hepburn. However the dresses that really made me gasp were two worn by Jackie O. Her wedding dress, a sweet little turtleneck mini, and the other a fabulous mint coloured flowing chiffon number. The amount of times hat I have seen these two dresses in various magazines or newspapers did not prepare me for how beautiful they are in real life.
I cannot recommend the exhibition enough to any fashion lover out there. Mr Valentino's stunning gowns really are mesmerizing, so why not immerse yourself in the fascinating world of couture at Somerset House.
'Valentino: Master of Couture' runs until 3rd March 2013 at Somerset House.