London show fetes Italian fashion designer Valentino

Thu Nov 29, 2012 12:38pm EST
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By Li-mei Hoang

LONDON (Reuters) - The Oscar dress worn by Julia Roberts and a frock for Audrey Hepburn are just two tantalizing items out of the dozens of sumptuous pieces gathered for a new show in London celebrating Italian designer Valentino Garavani's 50 years in fashion.

"Valentino: Master of Couture" at Somerset House on the River Thames in central London features more than 130 pieces from a designer whose clients included Grace Kelly, Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Elizabeth Taylor and Princess Margaret.

Dressed in a light grey suit and lilac shirt, the man simply referred to in the industry as Valentino told reporters he hoped to do more shows in England in the future.

"I love England, I love to be in London and I hope to be able to come very often to do other exhibitions, other Valentino things in this beautiful city," he said.

Besides the black velvet evening gown with white ribbons Roberts wore when she won the best actress Oscar and a delicate floral dress with green sash designed for Hepburn, the exhibition delves into Valentino's personal letters and photographs, displays handcrafted couture gowns and has digital installations, including videos of his atelier.

Upon entering, visitors are greeted by a huge white flower installation with interactive projections and quirky display cases made of plush white upholstered chairs.

A pale lilac carpet on the next level leads visitors towards a catwalk, where rows of white chairs are lined up amongst more than 130 pieces from Valentino's couture collections.

"We want visitors to feel in the centre of things on the catwalk, so it's a privileged catwalk in a sense...We hope it's going to be a really pleasurable experience," co-curator Alistair O'Neill told Reuters.   Continued...

Fashion designer Valentino Garavani arrives for the 2012 New York City Ballet Fall Gala at the Lincoln Center in New York September 20, 2012. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly