Valentino Retrospective at the GOMA

‘Valentino, Retrospective: Past/Present/Future’ is a major exhibition exploring the work of the celebrated Italian couturier, Valentino Garavani.

The exhibition encompasses haute couture from Valentino’s first collection in 1959 through to work created by Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli – creative directors for Valentino in 2008.

One hundred gowns have been curated by the renowned Les Arts Dècoratifs, Paris and are on exclusive display in Australia at the Gallery of Modern Art(GoMA) in Brisbane.

I took my five year old daughter Annabel with me, we then met up with a friend to explore the beautiful collection of breath-taking gowns.  It was so exciting to be in the presence of such history you could almost feel the energy of the people who had worn the gowns over the years, (well, I tried to anyway).

In an era of mass production, assembly line manufacturing and highly consumable, disposable fashion, it was incredible wondering at garments that are, beyond anything you’ve seen on the racks at your closest Westfield.  It is so worth the (very reasonable) $20 price of admission for simply being what they are – historical pieces of couture that you simply must see in person if you are passionate about fashion, style and the art-form that is Haute Couture.

Mr Garavani is present too – though not in the flesh. His face beams from screens featuring looping films of his brilliant career atop one of the most controversial, cut-throat and glamorous industries in the world.

His friend and curator-in-chief at Les Arts Décoratifs in Paris, Pamela Golbin, says the spirit of Mr Valentino shone through in the invisible seams, stitching and beauty of his presented creations.
“He had a very special and personal note that he wanted to share with you today,” Ms Golbin says.
“Australia is a fascinating place,” she reads.
“I have been there several times with my fantasy, alas, never with my reality.
“I hope that my clothes will talk to you a bit about me and my work – I’m very proud to have been able to bring this retrospective to the Queensland Art Gallery with the great support and organisation of Les Arts Décoratifs in Paris.
“I hope you like my work, thank you and arrivederci, Valentino Garavani.”
Grand sentiments from the man at the centre of this exhibition eloquently surmise the strength of this retrospective.
As significant as his designs, and the House of Valentino, have been to the world of fashion for the past fifty years, GoMAs latest effort is among its greatest triumphs.
Exclusive to just three destinations in the world, the exhibition comes direct from Paris to Brisbane where it is current until it moves on to Singapore in November.

For his final show in 2008, 30 models walked in Valentino Red gowns to rapturous applause. The formula for Valentino Red, by the way, is this: 100 per cent magenta, 100 per cent yellow and 10 per cent black. Oh, and not forgetting a splash of Italian flair.

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