Image: Google images
So unless you have been living under a rock for the last month and haven’t seen the many, buses, bus stops, billboards and numerous other advertisements, you would be aware there is a Valentino exhibition on at The Queensland Gallery of Modern art.
Of course this exhibition is bound to bring up the age old debate as to whether fashion is art. For me it depends on the designer or in this case the design house. Alexander Wang, designer? Yes, artist? No. What about the recently deceased Alexander McQueen? Personally I would call McQueen’s nightmarish work art, but Valentino? Certainly there is a place for him within the design cannon; however I’m not entirely convinced as to whether his work belongs in GOMA. Regardless, it is, and rather than continuing this debate I’m just going to review the exhibition.
The clothes, of course are gorgeous, there are those which make me cringe to think they were ‘in’ at the time and others which made me join the chorus of “sighs” around me. Mostly I was just in awe of the intricate detail; the beading, the feathers, the runching, and of course Valentino’s famous pleating.
However what I found most intriguing about the exhibition was the space that hosted it. In true GOMA style the exhibition is not organised chronically, rather it seems the garments have been grouped according to style and influence. They are displayed under elaborate Roman style columns, obviously an attempt to recreate the hierarchical style photo shoots that usually accompany his advertising campaigns.
Image: Google images
The whole exhibition really shows off the great space GOMA has to work with. They are lucky enough to not only have this space but also the budget and they really have gone all out for this exhibition. Walking through from the first catwalk style gallery you enter a sleek resource lounge and cafe, complete with fashion magazines and runway footage installations. Finally in the last gallery, after inspecting the silver mannequins which host the Valentino designed garments, you come to the five golden mannequins, courtesy of the new designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli. For me this was the highlight and I was disappointed there were so few of the ‘new’ Valentino designs, mostly because this is the Valentino I know.
As always with block buster exhibitions expect to wait in line, not only to purchase the ticket but also to actually see the garments. If you feel the need, fight your way through middle aged ladies with handbags and join a tour group for some background knowledge on the design house and which celebrity wore what. This is the first time this survey of Valentino’s work has been shown outside of Paris so it is to be expected the exhibition is packed, but it is well worth it to see the garments close up and without their usual glass enclosures.
Valentino Retrospective: Past/Present/Future. Until November 14 at the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art, http://qag.qld.gov.au/