Sunday, 20 January 2013

Valentino Exhibit and Couture discussion - Part 2

I hope you managed to vicariously enjoy the Valentino show and had a look around Valentino's cyber museum.

Sometimes, the sideshow around the occasion is just as amusing.

I wish I could have taken pictures of the crowd because the demographic was quite distinct.

One group was what you would naturally expect - fashion students.  There were very conspicuously dressed; making fashion statements. I guess every week is fashion week for them.  But believe me, I am not being harsh on fashion students - some of my best friends are...

Not the same fashion students - but you get the idea.

Then there was the off shoot which were the very serious, postgraduate fashion students who were wearing pre-revolutionary black outfits.
 Karl Lagerfeld and / or Daphne Guinness wannabes.

I can rarely tell them apart.

The other group were out of town, old school, British grannies who really knew how to sew.  They were the ones that could whip up an outfit in three hours and could be on Project Runway with no problem at all.  They were really inspecting the needlework and they were the ones watching every single video on techniques that the seamstresses use.  Very sweet.

These exact ladies weren't there but very similar to the ones that were.

The third part of the show was a wedding dress worn by Princess Marie Chantal of Greece. There was also a video screening or various collections and other footage that can be watched through the link to his Valentino Garavani Museum website.

They featured special videos of the seamstresses at Valentino's atelier demonstrating elaborate skills used normally only in couture dresses and were commissioned especially for the archives.

You were not allowed to film or video them during the exhibit but they showed snippets of the video during the talk and I was allowed to film that.  So for those of you who are interested in seeing how they make the iconic rose that Valentino likes to use on some of his pieces, I have put a link to the video demonstrations.  

The roses were used in the dress that is the from his first collection and interspersed through his work and was funnily enough, my favourite dress in the whole show.

To watch how the seamstress makes each rose - please watch here.

So now on to the talk.

The speaker at the Couture discussion was Alistair O'Neil and Sonnet Sunhill.  Both fashion heavy hitters.  
( The pictures don't show them properly hence I have linked them
 to other websites so you can see them better. )

Sonnet speaking about her next exhibition at the V & A.
Sonnet has already curated major exhibitions at the V & A to much acclaim.  She is working on a show about Alta Moda - Italian haute couture to be exhibited spring of 2014.  She was looking for dresses and putting her feelers out for anyone who may have some dresses from the 50's. Her talk had so much detailed information and was explaining how it is really hard to curate a show and make these dresses really come alive.  

 She said that in preparation for the exhibition she had a mini tutorial from Mr Rubinacci before coming to the talk.  

Regular visitors to the Sartorialist will recognize Mr Rubinacci.

  The very same who is often featured often in the Sartorialist and the heir to the Rubinacci fashion house of Naples. 
( The link will go to his pictures featured there. Molto suave. )
 She used this picture of a tailored jacket from the Neapolitan school.

Even a simple jacket was made interesting by her insight.  Neapolitan tailoring is distinct from other jacket tailoring schools such as the Milanese, German, and English traditions in that it is very form fitting in the torso and arms, with pleated shoulders for movement, a loose pocket with a purposeful droop for easy access and a phantom button.  

All I know is that I am definitely going to her show next year at the V & A.  If she can make this jacket interesting then I can't imagine what she will be able to do with Italian couture dresses!

Alistair speaking about couture and Valentino.

Alistair spoke and concentrated on the technical side of dressmaking.  He told us that there are still some ladies who were in the original atelier and started with Valentino himself.  Poaching and headhunting of the seamstresses was apparently a real problem in the haute couture world as the seamstresses are trained in-house for years so to lose one is hugely detrimental.  So many of Valentino's dresses are reliant on experts and he has developed some own techniques.

This dress below is made using the couture technique called - incrostazione - which is cut lace sewn onto a tulle base.
A lace collage dress. Sorry but you will have to go to the museum for closeup!
Lace is sewed on top of a base tulle and the stitching is invisible and completely seamless.

He did explain certain techniques like the budellini ( rolling of silk around wool which looked like spaghetti ) which I mentioned in the last post.
Budellini - the strips ready to be used on the dresses.
The strips placed on the dress.

  While informative, a few ladies got up in the crowd and almost heckled him asking why this information wasn't available during the exhibition.  I admit I had to concur...silently of course.

A fun snippet he shared was that one of the major incentives to stay thin for couture clients was that dresses straight off the runway were half price! ( 17K instead of 35K- bargain! )

There was a drawing masterclass by fashion illustrator Jason Brooks today in fact but I would have just taken a proper student's spot so I didn't attend. 

But if you get a chance to go please do
 - remember the exhibit closes March 3rd!

If you can't make it, I hope I helped you feel like you attended anyway.


  1. Haha I've already been but this totally took me back. Amazing post :)

    Lela -

  2. I think princess MC is naturally beautiful. Great post, again! xo Caroline

  3. Great post, really informative. Interesting what you said about the British grannies, I could do with knowing one that can sew well. I need to start going to some of these events as well - looks fab x

  4. In my younger days I was one of the clad in all black types, it took me years to break it's raven grip.

  5. Great post! I've been racking my brains trying to figure out how the 'pieghe Voltate' was done (the turned back double silk in black and white). I don't suppose you know where I can see that video?! Thank you!

  6. They didn't show that vido. They had a video making the tulle roses I uploaded but even that was a bit contraband! Sorry but they didn't have many videos at all in fact...


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