lundi 21 janvier 2008

Ciao Maestro

Today marks the debut of Haute Couture shows for summer 2008. Of the haute couture houses set to show, one of the most looked forward to, is that of Valentino. It is an especially important show as it marks his last one under his label for haute couture. After forty five glorious years, the Maestro is retiring. Indeed, he has already bid adieu from feminine prêt-a-porter last October. And while it is true that for people like you and me his creations are a little out of reach price wise, they are nonetheless creations that make us dream.
Last year, in view of his imminent retirement and more importantly, to celebrate more than forty years of creativity and glamour, the Ara Pacis museum of Rome collaborated with Valentino to present an exhibit (Valentino a Roma: 40 Years of Style) of his wonderful creations. I was fortunate enough to have been able to visit and during such time, I was no more than two feet away from his gorgeous works. It was an exquisite afternoon of beauty and dreams.
The Richard Meier designed Ara Pacis museum was the perfect place to showcase Valentino. The white and glass structure of the Museum provided an exquisite frame from which to view the wonderful gowns. And because it is all glass and marble, from outside the gowns vivid and exuberant splashes of color provided wonderful glimpses of the treasures within. I began my visit in a long dark corridor where early masterworks hung from floor to ceiling. Here there were exquisitely embroidered gowns, some with fantastical motifs like dragons coiling around the bodice. My camera is inadequate to the task of capturing such marvels.

From there I walked towards a well lighted hall where the Maestro’s works were worn by well placed mannequins with their arms held up to the heavens. One gets the feeling of being in front troupes of choirs dressed in the most heavenly manner. And because one needs a sense of order to fully appreciate the beauty, the dresses are artfully arranged by color. On opposite ends of the hall are two choirs dressed in Valentino’s signature red while those in the middle were dressed with his wonderfully white creations.

Of course it wouldn’t have been complete without showing the fabulous gowns worn by celebrities and by royalty. As such, we get to see up close the gown worn by Italian film star Monica Vitti and Hollywood’s Julia Roberts and Jennifer Lopez as well as those worn by Jackie Kennedy and by Farah Diba of Iran. For the amateur and avid student of fashion, we got to see hand written sketches from Valentino detailing the work to be done on the different coats, gowns and suits. What was wonderful about this part was that visitors could (and did) slide giant magnifying glasses across the sketches to better view each and every detail.
From dainty coats to jaw dropping gowns the exhibit gave us a wonderfully diverse selection of Valentino’s clothes in all his years of working. All of them exquisitely worked and perfectly kept. In the end I came away with a sense of regret that the Maestro has decided to step down and hand over his reins of his empire. But then again, what better time to step down than at the pinnacle of success?
Pink Princess

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