Forever Valentino Doha Exhibition A Palazzo – Qatar Museums. Story by RUNWAY MAGAZINE. Photo Courtesy: Valentino.
Six decades of history uniquely unfold in a panoramic scenography. Maison Valentino drops the curtains on Forever – Valentino, major perspective through heritage & history.
On the occasion of Qatar Creates, Qatar Museums and Maison Valentino are enthusiastic to present the theatrical experience in Doha @M7, the design and innovation hub, from October 28, 2022 to April 1, 2023.
Through the showcase – its first in the Middle East and largest to date – the Maison narrates its timeless heritage , from the early creative visions of Mr. Valentino Garavani to the contemporary designs of Pierpaolo Piccioli.
Visitors will live and breathe in the essence of 260 creations in an immersive experiential journey, guided in and out of a reimagined version of Rome, the place where everything started and where its identity belongs to.
DOHA, October – On October 27th 2022, Qatar Creates, Qatar Museums and Maison Valentino hosted the opening of ‘Forever Valentino’, a major exhibition that pays homage to the founder of the fashion house, Valentino Garavani, and its still-unfolding heritage of Haute Couture excellence. The exhibition is now on view at M7, Msheireb Downtown Doha’s design and innovation hub.
The exhibition is the largest ever devoted to Maison Valentino and is the first presentation in the Middle East of the firm’s creative achievements. Coinciding with the celebration of Valentino Garavani’s 90th birthday and the unveiling of the Valentino “The Beginning” Haute Couture collection in the heart of Rome, the exhibition is conceived as a vast panorama of the history of the fashion house, embedded in scenography that evokes the Eternal City, where Maison Valentino was established in 1959.
Her Excellency Sheikha Al Mayassa said: “With the world’s eyes on Doha as we launch into our exciting schedule of events surrounding the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, I am proud that we are welcoming the public to an exhibition that is as imaginative, glamorous, and elegant as the subject itself: the creations of Maison Valentino. I express my warmest thanks to everyone who collaborated with us to realize this tribute to a great artistic vision, and I look forward to continuing to share extraordinary explorations of the best of fashion and design.”
“Working on a fashion exhibition is an absolute exception for me and I couldn’t think of a better opportunity than presenting the work of Maison Valentino and collaborating with Pierpaolo Piccioli, Alexander Fury and the many great teams that have made this exhibition possible. Working in Doha is always very special: it’s a place where dreams of artists come alive and working on this show has really been somewhat of a dream, or perhaps a ‘capriccio’, a flight of fantasy that only in Doha could become a reality.” Massimiliano Gioni
“Maison Valentino is one of the world’s most important fashion houses, led today by Pierpaolo Piccioli, undoubtedly one of the great designers of our time. It has been an honour and privilege to work alongside Massimiliano Gioni, Pierpaolo and the whole Maison Valentino team on this exhibition – on the awe-inspiring and slightly incredible task of bringing Rome to Doha, transporting a context along with Valentino’s creations. The legacy of Valentino Garavani – and therefore the meaning of Valentino – is to celebrate beauty, in all its incarnations, from every walk of life and every period of time. That noble quest, that ceaseless search for and celebration of beauty to better the world is, for me, Forever Valentino.” Alexander Fury
Featuring over 200 Valentino Haute Couture pieces and prêt-à-porter outfits, ‘Forever Valentino’ is presented on mannequins by La Rosa and accompanied by accessories and fashion objects displayed in an immersive scenography. It weaves a richly textured image of the city of Rome with private memories from the Maison’s six decades-long history, including rarely seen ensembles designed for the likes of Elizabeth Taylor, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and, more recently, Zendaya, along with stunning creations and virtuosic examples of Valentino’s excellence.
Curated by Massimiliano Gioni, Artistic Director of the New Museum New York, and fashion critic and author Alexander Fury, along with Valentino’s Creative Director, Pierpaolo Piccioli, the exhibition also features ensembles from the private collection of Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, a long-standing client of the fashion house.
Visitors can view the exhibition at Gallery 1 and 2, M7, in Msheireb Downtown Doha, from 28 October 2022 to 1 April 2023. Tickets can be purchased through the Qatar Creates website, with special access and discounts for One Pass holders: www.qacreates.com. Launched as a gateway to arts and culture for all residents and visitors, the One Pass offers access to over 300 events and experiences, including art and cultural exhibitions, museums, live events, festivals, theatre and musicals, throughout November and December 2022.
A conversation between past and present, an exploration of a legacy, an anticipation of a future. A perspective, not a retrospective. Forever Valentino observes the life of the House of Valentino, spanning over six decades of expertise, inspiration, and magic.
Forever – Valentino is conceived as a vast panoramic view of the history of the Maison, an emotional dramaturgy embedded in an immersive scenography evoking Rome, the Eternal City, which has been Valentino’s home since its foundation in 1959. Forever – Valentino builds a dream like image of spectacular vistas of Rome and the intimate spaces of the Maison Valentino alike. The exhibition sketches an instant city constructed as a collage of environments and experiences, in which Valentino’s creations are displayed in dialogue with the many sources of inspiration that have stirred the creativity of both the founder Valentino Garavani and his successor Pierpaolo Piccioli.
Valentino has built a profound connection with Rome, cultivating a never-ending love affair with the eternal city, where Valentino Garavani founded the Maison in 1959, at the height of La Dolce Vita. In the work of Pierpaolo Piccioli, Valentino’s Creative Director since 2016, Rome appears less as an exclusive emblem of opulence and more as a vibrant, multicultural metropolis—a polyphonic crucible of communities and voices that translate into a complex fabric of both glorious spectacle and personal intimacy.
The codes of Valentino and the methodologies of Haute Couture are explored throughout spaces that invent both cinematic visions of Rome and a reimagining of key spaces within the famed Palazzo Gabrielli Mignanelli, home of the Maison Valentino. Fashion both echoes and contradicts its surroundings—like Rome, it too can be simultaneously grand yet intimate, quotidian yet exceptional. Rather than recontextualized within the walls of a museum, Valentino’s designs here evoke their own context: transporting with them the traces of the place of their creation, they are discovered within their natural habitats. Part of the history of fashion, of culture, and of Rome, Valentino’s creations appear embedded in both the heritage of the House and of their birthplace.
Forever – Valentino stages a pop-up, dream-like vision of Rome, more enticing when seen in Doha, a city where the past and the future meet at vertiginous speed.
Red is Valentino – a colour first used in Valentino Garavani’s debut collection in 1959 and present ever since, it is synonymous with the House. The wider cultural meanings of red align with our perceptions of Valentino – it is a colour of optimism and auspiciousness, of authority and abundance, of passion and love.
Though in 1985, a particular shade – noted for its vibrant energy – was christened with the House’s name, in all more than 550 nuances of red are present within the Maison’s couture archives alone. 34 examples are gathered here, exemplifying how Rosso Valentino is, truly, a ‘fil rouge’ that connects each and every Creative Director of the Maison – Alessandra Facchinetti, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli – to Valentino Garavani’s personal vision of beauty, his noble ideals.
If red is a heartbeat that pulses through the designs of Valentino, then that pulse leads us to the Maison’s true heart – a reimagining of the courtyard at the epicentre of the Palazzo Gabrielli Mignanelli, the home of the House of Valentino since 1968. The recreation includes the monumental sculpture by Igor Mitoraj, itself contemporary art created to resemble fragments of ancient statuary, a fitting reflection of the inspiration Garavani drew constantly from history, and of the inspiration his successors draw from him.
The start is always carte blanche – an empty page, a piece of calico, a silhouette sketched in material. The beginnings. The fitting room of the Palazzo Gabrielli Mignanelli, used by Valentino to refine his creations and still used by Pierpaolo Piccioli today, is the place where a collection begins, translating the hitherto imaginary to its first physical form: a ‘toile’, in white calico or muslin. A toile is a ghost – but a ghost not of the past, but of what is to come. The start of the life of a garment.
This magical process goes through many stages – sketches, forms created in miniature to help determine silhouette and pattern placement, and the toiles, painstakingly fitted on House models to perfect shape on the body in movement, the start of an essential dialogue between the couturier and the expert craftspeople of the Valentino Haute Couture Ateliers. The room resembles both a sculptor’s studio and a laboratory – it is, in part, both. In Haute Couture, clothes are not created with paper patterns – rather these material toiles, perfected on the living body, create patterns in three dimensions. They provide a superior blueprint for creation.
This room showcases not only the beginnings of a collection, but the beginnings of Valentino – it presents the first two key looks from Valentino’s landmark ‘Collezione Bianca’ all-white Couture collection of 1968, sublimations of the traditional white coat, or ‘blouse blanche,’ worn by the seamstresses of the Couture Ateliers. They stand sentinel over ‘Fiesta’, the first red dress created by Valentino Garavani for his premiere Haute Couture collection for Spring/Summer 1959, reflected by its modern counterpart, an homage – a cape directly inspired by its look and youthful esprit which opened Pierpaolo Piccioli’s Valentino The Beginning Haute Couture collection.
If the courtyard represents the physical heart of the House of Valentino, the Ateliers are its ideological soul. The Ateliers are the workrooms that bring the dreams of designers to life, and the House of Valentino has four, animated by devoted seamstresses whose expertise is unparalleled. Within these walls, they are able to create the impossible.
Haute Couture creations are cut and sewn by hand – the highest expression of fashion as an art form and a vehicle for exceptional creativity and virtuoso technique. This has been the trademark of Haute Couture for centuries, connecting these clothes back to the Renaissance. Haute Couture excellence today is focussed in two European capitals, Paris and Rome, the latter the home of Valentino, where it is translated as Alta Moda. The expert seamstresses are part of Valentino’s family – the essence of its excellence. Their individual personalities are as important as their vast knowledge and prowess – they imprint their characters and stories on the cloth of their creations.
This Atelier is dedicated to the exceptional and world-renowned skills of Valentino’s Ateliers, and to the savoir faire that characterises true Haute Couture. That includes not only embroideries and embellishments, but the unseen – it is a hallmark of Haute Couture that a dress should be as exquisite on the inside as it is out. It is also a paean to perfection and to techniques of sewing, which could have been lost in time without the oxygen of contemporary Haute Couture. A number of techniques were invented entirely by the seamstresses of the Maison Valentino, passed between generations of artisans. They are unique to its creations and its distinct language of Haute Couture.
While Haute Couture is undoubtedly a bold expression of a designer’s unbridled creativity, at the House of Valentino it is also an important service to a global clientele. For over 60 years, the worlds most sophisticated and cultured women – have dressed by Valentino.
Haute Couture clothes are truly unique, made-to-order and therefore cut and fitted to each individual client. It is also a part of the culture of Haute Couture that a client enters into a relationship with an Atelier, evolving and adapting designs to reflect her own life. Fabrics may be changed, silhouettes altered, designs combined, giving a couturier’s creations a new vitality, a different perspective. It is an essential and entirely personal reflection of luxury, and also a vital step in the translation of Haute Couture from imagination to reality. The translation of the form of an Haute Couture ensemble from its public unveiling to the wardrobes of women around the world, is a fundamental evolution of its meaning.
A quintessential dialogue between a couturier and the Atelier becomes a conversation, the client an active participant in a reciprocal creative dialogue. Haute Couture pieces are curated from a selection of the House of Valentino’s most famous clients spanning its lifetime. Each one serves not only as a reflection of the codes of the Maison and a demonstration of its creative prowess, but as a revelatory, intimate and emotional portrait of each woman they were created for.
Conceived by geniuses of the Baroque such as Giovanni Antonio Canaletto and Giovanni Battista Piranesi, the art of the capriccio turned marvellous Italian landscapes into enchanted mirages, creating many of the icons and myths which still inform the perception of Italy both locally and internationally. Fashion itself is, of course, composed of capriccios – of fantasies, inspirations made material, art, music, culture translated to cloth. Here, the notion of capriccio inspires a treatment of Rome as a monochromatic cinematic reverie, drawing on the famed work of Italian neorealist auteurs such as Vittorio De Sica, Roberto Rossellini, Giuseppe De Santis and Pier Paolo Pasolini, who themselves present fantasies of Rome through their work. Their post-war rise coincides with the debut of Valentino.
Black and white are key colours for the House of Valentino – sometimes examined separately, such as in Valentino Garavani’s famed 1968 Collezione Bianca couture collection, but often presented in arresting contrast. By restricting the palette, emphasis is placed on volume and form, while embellishment is given a sense of the sculptural through applications of fabric, as if the textile of the dresses themselves have been carved into shape. Allusions can therefore be found between these clothes and the sculptures and architecture that define Rome’s identity.
Underscoring the importance of cinema as a modern capriccio, four white and silver dresses from Pierpaolo Piccioli’s Valentino Of Grace And Light Haute Couture collection, are showcased. Exaggerated to unreal scale, they recall the phantasmagoria that people the movies of Federico Fellini – their vast expanses of cloth were used within the collection’s presentation as chimerical canvasses for the projection of film. Fittingly, they were unveiled at the legendary Cinecittà film studios in Rome, a dream factory here once again helping craft the sublime.
DIVAS have always been associated with Valentino – from its earliest years, the House has dressed exceptional women, around the world. Many of those reside in the realm of Hollywood: figures world-renowned, internationally fêted, and instantly-recognized. Translated from Latin, dīva literally means ‘goddess’.
But today, a DI.VAS can be something different. For Pierpaolo Piccioli – who, before his career in fashion, studied literature and therefore always expresses a keen interest in the power of language – DI.VA is a wordplay, an acronym denoting Different Values. That describes a promotion of authenticity, progressive ideals, and diversity, connecting figures across cultures. They are strong, empowered and empowering, remarkable and multifaceted characters. Although this definition is new, it retroactively applies to the figures drawn to Valentino, and Valentino to them. Valentino’s DI.VAS were always DIVAS, upheld by their inner values and beliefs.
Valentino’s DI.VAS are famous, universally – but they have always used that fame as a means of communication, a manner in which to express their belief systems and to affect change in society around them. Their fashion, in turn, has been an essential component to convey their messages.
The fashion show is a vehicle of thought for a designer – a medium for their message, a manner of conveyance. A wordless pageant, a rich sensorial display, it can be allied to ceremonies of state, to the choreography of ballet, to silent film.
Pierpaolo Piccioli has challenged the conventional limitations of the runway show, partnering with artists, designers, musicians and writers to expand our perceptions of that which can be conveyed. Valentino’s Fall/Winter 2022 ready-to-wear show in Paris introduced a new colour, Valentino Pink PP, an intense shade of magenta that subsumed garments and décor alike in a surreal monochrome universe. Alongside a text and series of mantras created by the author Douglas Coupland, the show toyed with our perceptions of the purpose and impact of the fashion show – the all-encompassing hue blurred lines between clothing and environs. It was a fashion show where the clothes became postmodern camouflage.
That challenging of perceptions, that shifting of vantage-points, is mirrored here – an imaginary backstage space, peopled with fractured video views of the Valentino Fall/Winter 2022 runway show, is precursor to the revelation of the debut and finale look from that collection, as if frozen in perpetual parade, in a never-ending fashion show.
The concept of the Wunderkammer, or Cabinet of Curiosities, emerged in mid-sixteenth century Europe – where the term ‘cabinet’ denotes not furniture but rather an entire room, home to collections of objects that combined fantastical elements of nature with the man-made or manufactured, objects of science and superstition, pieces from far-off lands and unfamiliar cultures.
The Wunderkammer marked a blurring of the lines between real and make-believe, dazzling the onlooker and exciting the mind in a thirst for knowledge. This idea directly inspired Pierpaolo Piccioli and Maria Grazia Chiuri’s Fall/Winter 2013 collection – opening with a dress the elaborate jacquard patterns of fauna and flora of which encased in lace, was conceived in and of itself as a Wunderkammer in cloth. But the notion is also evident throughout the craft of Couture, demonstrated in an entire selection of curiosities gathered from the annals of the House of Valentino, used as tools and totems to provoke and excite. This Wunderkammer blurs materializations, cultural and historical antecedents and even purpose.
Like Haute Couture collections, the Wunderkammer were not mere displays of wealth or status – although they undoubtedly showcased that. They were more complex and nuanced, expressing the culture, interests and aspirations of their creators. One of the first texts on museology, Inscriptiones vel tituli theatre amplissimi, was published in 1565 by the Flemish scholar Samuel Quiccheberg, examining the notion of the Wunderkammer – seen as precursors to our modern museum. Through collecting, Quiccheberg stated, ‘we can better understand the world’. He described the Wunderkammer as a theatrum sapientiae – a theatre of wisdom.
Contrary to popular belief, the archives of great fashion Houses are not dusty repositories but rather living, breathing spaces, electric with the dynamic energy of past triumphs, ready to inspire future creation, and poised to tell their own stories. The rich archive of the House of Valentino, within the Maison’s home of the Palazzo Gabrielli Mignanelli, marks a journey of the return of these garments to the place of their creation. Pierpaolo Piccioli’s work is in constant conversation with the oeuvre of Valentino Garavani – finding echoes and reflections within his exceptional body of creation, displayed here, spanning five decades. They are the memories of the House.
Archives can also be enigmatic. Specially-devised to conceal the artefacts within them – and therefore to cosset and protect – poring through a fashion House’s history is itself a thrilling voyage of discovery and rediscovery, one usually closely-guarded and offered to a chosen few. As with archaeology, we dig deep to discover treasures. That action is replicated: alongside outfits proudly on display, many for the first time, extraordinary pieces from the heritage of Valentino, like secrets of its past, can be discovered lovingly cradled within drawers, or hidden in cases. In doing so, we mirror the journey of a Creative Director, uncovering the heritage of a House, breathing new life into its past.
Within these walls, within this history, the signs and signifiers of Valentino’s present can be unearthed, vibrant and alive as ever.
CAHIERS DE DEFILE
For every collection executed as solo Creative Director of Valentino, Pierpaolo Piccioli has charted the process of creation through a document he dubs the ‘Cahier de Defile’. Part diary, part aide-mémoire, and composed of inspirational images and sketches, fabric developments, notes, spontaneous Polaroid images and more, these tomes are compiled after each collection is completed, collating the fragments that made each design possible. Their mood is one of heirloom, of souvenir. A charting of thought and feeling.
Intensely private and personal documents, Pierpaolo Piccioli’s ‘collection of collections’ is shown here, for the first time, in its entirety. Like a library or repository of creativity, these volumes are recollections and recordings of the creative impulse – their pages making concrete the at times abstract and impulsive, the connections between different images, ideas and ideals that form the heartbeat of a collection. They immortalise every element from the earliest emotional responses through even to the invitation and topography of each show’s venue, recalling the intricate choreography of the models as the collection debuts.
Alongside the process – the results. A selection of outfits is drawn from Pierpaolo Piccioli’s collections since 2016 – exemplifying the exuberant colour sense, the audacious volumes, daring proportions and brave challenges to convention that characterise his powerful work. Many comprise the collection’s first or final looks – positions of significance and power within the sequential pageantry of the fashion show, they represent opening and closing aesthetic statements, talismans of their respective season.
A Roman landmark both philosophically and physically close to Valentino, the rococo grandeur of the Spanish Steps has served as a theatrical backdrop to some of the House’s most triumphant moments. A place of rendezvous, alive everyday with the ebb and flow of humanity, this monument is naturally aligned to the procession of a fashion show, and has thus been an inspired setting for the showcase of the House’s designs for decades – most recently Pierpaolo Piccioli’s Valentino the Beginning Haute Couture show.
Reimagined as a spectacular podium, these steps are a vantage-point to view another series of rendezvous – exchanges and conversations between the work of Valentino Garavani and Pierpaolo Piccioli. Over sixty Haute Couture ensembles are showcased, captured in revelatory contrast, in visual debate – they are engaged in a pure expression of colour, representing a spectrum of creativity.
Colour has always been a vital component of the House of Valentino – red is its signature, but the joyous conveyance of feeling through specific shades exists throughout the Maison’s history. Gathered like a fresco across the steps, these colours seem allied inexorably to the work of great Italian artists from the Renaissance to today. Pure colour has an instant impact, a spontaneous power – it immediately transforms.
Harnessed as a proscenium, the Spanish Steps can represent diverse and divergent views of Rome – a Rome not only immortalized but reimagined through the lens of cinema, of architecture and art, of ancient imagination, of modern fable. And of Valentino.