Valentino, Somerset House

I only had the chance to race round the Valentino exhibition at Somerset House. The show conveniently coincides with London Fashion Week, and I’m sure, like me, there are many journalists keen on seeing both.

This major new exhibition celebrating the life and work of Valentino showcasing over 130 exquisite haute couture designs worn by icons such as Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Grace Kelly, Sophia Loren and Gwyneth Paltrow in an exciting installation created specially for Somerset House.

The initial room displays photographs from his personal archive and invitations from influential fashion editors, designers and famous fans. It is interesting to observe these artefacts, the focus is shifted away from the clothes and instead offers a rare glimpse of the man, the genius behind them.

Upstairs a role reserval leads visitors down the catwalk, while they observe the dresses displayed on mannaquins on either side, including the cream organza evening ensemble with flower detailing worn by Audrey Hepburn, the white ecru georgette evening dress with lace applique worn by Jacqueline Kennedy and the black velvet and tulle evening gown with white ribbon detailing worn by Julia Roberts. Every dress has a story to tell. The catwalk seats are adorned with handwritten notes naming the influential women who have been a part of Valentino’s rise to the fashion throne.

Even if fashion is not your ‘thing,’ it is impossible not to admire these striking and sophisticated designs. I was pleased to notice that visitors ranged from keen students to animated children and adults in awe. Valentino is a designer with something for everyone to love. As you wander out, the show concentrates on the painstaking processes of crafting couture exemplified by the stunning wedding dress of Princess Marie Chantal of Greece.

I’ve seen many of the fashion related collections here but I must admit there is something special about this Valentino exhibit. And though it is a relatively small show for your £12 entry fee, the grandeur, beauty and exquisite tailoring on display is catwalk couture at its very best.

Continues until 3rd March, book here.