December 19, 2011
With more than a little fanfare and a celeb-studded party, Valentino unveils his virtual museum in NYC
By Nancy Staab
Leave it to fashion’s “Last Emperor” to ensure his legacy with a cutting edge, online fashion archive—the first of its kind.
This is MAJOR as the fashion set, and particularly designer/stylist Rachel Zoe might intone. Valentino may have ceremoniously retired from the hallowed world of haute couture in 2007 and thrown himself a string of legendary galas in Rome (including aerialist performing against the backdrop of the Colosseum!), but he’s far from retired in the traditional sense. In 2008, Matt Tyrnauer released Valentino: The Last Emperor documenting his gilded life and his last days in his fashion atelier, and earlier this month, Valentino and his right-hand business partner Giancarlo Giammetti unveiled the fashion world’s first comprehensive virtual museum housing over 40 years of his work. The virtual Valentino Museum was the brainchild of Giammetti but Valentino eagerly saw the value in the project. Ironically, the complete museum was revealed at the actual, physical museum MoMA, with Anne Hathaway making the introduction and a glitterati, Valentino-clad crowd in attendance: Daphne Guiness, Sarah Jessica Parker, Georgina Chapman, Valerie Steele, Franca Sozzani, China Chow, Peter Som, Claire Danes, Rachel Zoe, Tamara Mellon and Joseph Altuzarra.
The entire project, officially known as The Valentino Garavani Virtual Museum, was funded by Valentino and Giammetti and has been made available for free download at: www.valentino-garavani-archives.org for any interested party-- from fashion students to the merely fashion curious. Consider this a high-fangled video game for the sartorial set, as viewers navigate through virtual palazzo-museum rooms with skylights and 300 pieces of Valentino couture organized by theme, color, etc. (of course there is a room of Valentino’s iconic red gowns). Viewers can search through vast, 5,000-image archives of original sketches and photos, advertising and editorial campaigns, plus video interviews and 180 fashion shows. One can also view Valentino’s designs in 360-degree angles or zoom in to study details of fabric and construction.
Among the virtual collection: Jackie Kennedy’s wedding dress when she married Aristotle Onassis, Julia Roberts’ vintage Valentino Oscar dress in 2001 and the gown Elizabeth Taylor wore to the premiere of Spartacus in 1960. Those other designers like Gucci and Prada can plan their paltry brick-and-mortar museum monuments, the wily Valentino has one-upped them by skipping the cost and limited space-constraints of a real museum for his infinite-capacity and geographically-unbounded virtual museum. This is a pretty impressive feat for a designer who reports that he needs an assistant to show him how to play his DVDs! We gave Zoe the first word in this story and we will give her the last too. As quoted in The Wall Street Journal, Zoe remarked: “I love that a man that is so kind of, I don’t want to say traditional, but, I don’t know, he’s been around for awhile, is doing something so futuristic and amazing. It’s not like a 23-year old coming out with a blog. It’s pretty cool.”
Download The Valentino Garavani Virtual Museum at: www.Valentino-Garavani-Archives.org