Tuesday, December 4, 2012


Valentino: Master of Couture opened last Thursday, November 29, at the Somerset House in London.  The exhibition, which shows a retrospective of Italian Designer, Valentino Garavani—of the House of Valentino—will display the Master of Couture's masterpieces (some of which are on lone from their owners), ranging from the past 60 years of the recently retired fashion pioneer. 

Haute couture: meaning high sewing or high dressmaking garments completely by hands, fitting the clients exquisitely and exclusively and is made with luxurious fabrics worked on with high attention to details, originated in Paris by an Englishman, Charles Fredrick Worth, in the mid-nineteenth century.  France regulates this artisanal talent by law, which is regulated by the Chambre de commerce et d'industrie de Paris—meaning there is a commission of chamber that deems every fashion house eligible to be a genuine haute couture label.

These days the couturiers designers as well as the couturier seamstresses, have become somewhat of an endangered species.  The generation of highly skilled needleworkers are simply retiring one by one–taking their prized craft along with them.  Hence the decline of the couture industry: by the end of 20th century, couture houses had dwindled down from about 106, down to 18.  As of today, this number has dropped down to about 11.  A couture house's qualifications are as follows: they must employ at least 20 people with a minimum of 75 designs per year.  

Although as part of the fashion brand, the couture line is a very expensive endeavor—each garments can go for tens of thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands—in a business standpoint, couture has somehow transitioned into more of a marketing investment.  Every season the couture fashion shows function mostly to show off the power and the aesthetic of the fashion label, all the while profiting mostly from the fashion name's smaller, less expensive items, such as fragrances and accessories.   

Needless to say, Haute couture is the art in the name of fashion; it falls under design in the most avant garde sense of word.  With that, it does not come a surprise that we are now seeing museums dedicate entire works of legendary fashion designers, which also not surprisingly do incredibly well, historically breaking records of attendances for such art institutions such as the MET. 

Valentino: Master of Couture will showing until March 3, 2013 at the Somerset House, so if you're in London during this time, be sure to check out what promises to be an eyeopening experience behind the absolute height of high fashion by the iconic master of couturier.  "[Some of the clothes are about 40 years old, which I was so surprised to see them again not in pieces, but still perfect]," said the now 80 year old fashion artist whose not immune to being amazed with the quality of his own haute couture pieces.  

For tickets and more information about Valentino: Master of Couture, go HERE

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