For almost 50 years, Valentino created exquisite and coveted designs for both pret-a-porter and Haute Couture. Based in Rome, his was the first couture house outside of Paris to be recognized by the French government, and his contribution to fashion is now being recognized with a fab new Rizzoli volume.
Published in association with an exhibition at the prestigious Les Arts Decoratifs in Paris, Valentino: Themes and Variations explores the coutourier's recurring motifs - variations on the ideas of line, surface, and volume, as well as geometry, pleats, and flowers - through photos, sketches, fabric samples, and striking editorial images.
Francois Halard photographs from Spring 2008 document Valentino's backstage fittings for his final couture collection and reveal the intensity and passion that contributed to making his shows so perenially popular with editors, socialites, celebs, and fashionistas.
Interestingly, Valentino compares his oeuvre to that of an author. "I have always considered my work as the one of a writer," he notes in the the foreward. "Over the years I wrote only one story, the one of my style, where each collection represents a single chapter, with all of its emotions, ideas, and motifs."
"The looks may change with every chapter, but the main characters are the same, as are the people and things that inspire me," he continues. "The is a story with the same protagonist throughout. The fashion elements and themes evolve as the story line progresses, but the woman behind the pleats, the embroideries, the bows, remains the same."
- Lesley Scott
(all photos copyright VALENTINO: Themes and Variations by Pamela Golbin, Rizzoli New York, 2008; photo at top - Ruven Afanador; red silk crepe batwing sleeve gown Spring/Summer 1999; red taffeta evening gown with train Fall/Winter 2002; editorial on mantlepiece - Mario Sierra; black velvet evening gown with white satin ribbon trim Fall/Winter 1992; black & white bias-cut silk cocktail suits Spring/Summer 2008; strapless evening dress with crimson taffeta rosettes Spring/Summer 2003; Spring/Summer 1972 ad campaign - Gianpaolo Barbieri; pink satin evening ensemble with Lesage embroidery Fall/Winter 1990; tiered evening gown embroidered with pink & orange ostrich feathers Fall/Winter 2007)
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