Valentino knew how to create a strong brand with standout style. Can you imagine being 15 years old and being able to wear Valentino haute couture to your school formal? Well Brooke Shields did! Brooke wore a signature ‘Valentino red’ gown created for her as part of her modelling contract. During a week on business I popped in and saw this gown on display amongst a collection which showcases the brilliant career of Italian designer Valentino Garvanti. The exhibition at the Brisbane Gallery of Modern Art (GoMA) features iconic pieces from 1958 through the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s, to his last collection in 2008.
Valentino Garvanti spent a lifetime creating a unique brand founded on beautifying the female silhouette and his love of colour and decoration, to carve a special niche in the fashion world. Part of the golden era of haute couture, Valentino made his mark alongside his contemporaries Yves St Laurent and Karl Lagerfield.
I am amazed at the attention to detail; Valentino’s creations are living sculptural pieces which come to life in the theatre of red carpet appearances, royal weddings and academy award ceremonies. I saw breathtakingly, stylish designs worn by Julia Roberts and Cate Blanchette’s academy awards appearances, gowns worn by Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn, Sienna Miller and Jacqueline Onassis’ wedding gown. Some are adorned with a rich embellishment of jewels, crystals, sequins and beading, sculptural tulle ruffles and layers. Others feature blocks of bright colour with custom printed and hand painted fabrics, with strong lines and shapes. A kaftan print of black panthers and green silk even features handcut emerald eyes.
His patronage from royalty adds another dimension to the Valentino brand. In the 1960’s Princess Grace wore a contemporary orange poncho with fringing and wide leg pants. Italian princesses regularly wore and modelled his gowns and Princess Margaret was an avid customer.
I am in awe as I observe how Valentino interpreted the mood of a fashion decade to create iconic pieces that reflect the era yet remain as stylish today. I love the way he created strong colour theme collections ie the signature Valentino red collection, the black collection and his famous white collection 1968 which features a range of off-whites and ivories which falter a range of skin tones.The famous ‘V’ brandmark has been incorporated as a golden detail embellishing a pocket on a coat. A dress from 1991 features an amazing combination of colours navy, emerald-green, grey, bronze, brown and orange silk.
He took inspiration from many sources from the story of an opera, the pattern of Wedgwood china, marble, the work of artist Gustav Klimt(Australian artist 1862-1915), the strong graphic shapes of the Josef Hoffman (cofounder of Wiener Werkstatte architecture and design).
If you find yourself in Brisbane you can easily spend more than a couple of hours at this great exhibition and be inspired by the exceptional high standard of these outstanding art pieces. Did I mention even the stocking are handmade? Then there are the shoes…….. Valentino of course!!!