An intimate look inside the Valentino Garavani Launch

– By Johannes Huebl –

Finally, the day of the launch of the Museum. A screening room at the MoMa in New York City, 11am. Journalists trying to make their way into the already crowded cinema, young elected fashion students anxious to hear about the facets and inspiration behind the Virtual Museum are already glued to their seats.

Valentino and Giancarlo Giammetti enter  the room with guest-speaker, Editor in  Chief of Vogue Italia Franca Sozzani. The  Host for the morning, actress Anne  Hathaway takes the podium first and calls  out the Valentino Family. She says “The  virtual museum will change Art, the art  world and how we experience both  forever.” She smilingly elaborates, that
“In case you have been in a bunker for the last 45 years, Valentino is widely acknowledged to be one of, if not the best fashion designers in the world, ever. ..Dressing everyone from Princess, to first ladies, to Oscar Winning Actresses.”

Anne Hathaway welcomes Franca Sozzani, the special guest speaker, on stage who says:
“It’s a very important moment….I’m an Italian…the fact that Valentino will be the first to open a Virtual Museum makes me really proud…and is completely different now to the entire world. To open a virtual museum, without any restriction of time and money, is a gift to the fashion world, but not only. It’s a gift for everybody, for people who love photography, who love fashion and who love the history of costume.”

In her beautiful words she describes how important Valentino’s contribution to fashion has been for the last 45 years, drawing out how unique his approach to the art of haute couture was, in 5 key elements to his vision:

  1. Images: campaigns and advertising. Very forward for the time of the 60’s, important for the strategy of his brand, using only top photographers throughout his career, giving a distinct look to his ideas
  2. Models: only having commissioned the most important models from Veruschka, Iman to Claudia Schiffer, Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell and Linda Evangelista
  3. Women: Jacky Onassis, Princesses, Queens, Celebrities, Socialites who loved wearing his designs, instead of getting paid for it. Elegance/Class/Beauty:  he is the symbol of elegance, ueber-creative in the 60’s, inventing the red dresses, but also having used leopard, embroideries as one of the first designers, taking inspirations from antique Chinese ceramcis
  4. Logomania: he puts the V everywhere, already in the beginning of his career, as much as we as nowadays encounter it everywhere in fashion
  5. Handcraft/Haute Couture: one of the first to start Haute Couture, with the love to dress women, not to shock journalists, but to create elegant clothes for his precious clients to make them attractive, beautiful, sexy, chic, but never vulgar.

Seemingly touched by the words of Franca Sozzani, Valentino walks on stage and humbly jokes how “little too much” she was “saying these beautiful things about me.” He describes how his career has always been focused on creating dresses for women, how the dress was always the center of attention: in the photography for the campaign, on the model, where the dress is alive, or the fashion show were the dress is worn. Now in the museum, he realizes, “it lives on forever.”

“Little by little…. I got fascinated by this virtual world, where the dresses have a different life, and everybody can reach them with an easy click. And with another click they can study them in all detail and information……it is a simple and direct connection to the people, ……young designer and students……and I am moved that we have so many young students here today, I hope you all enjoy the museum as much as I do now”

Anne Hathaway then introduces the creative mind behind the Virtual Museum, Giancarlo Giammetti, who explains what an amazing adventure they were beginning, when they started building their archive of the enormous amount of 50 years of activity and creativity. When the archive was simple at first, and became organized with the growing numbers of dresses and photography, they were facing the question, on how to make it available for people who would like to experience and study the art of handcrafted fashion phenomena. In their process of developing, Giancarlo Giammetti created the idea of the Valentino Garavani Virtual Museum, where dresses were not becoming dusty and obsolete, where a single designer could choose how to open his archive to the world, in their own roman architecture with blue sky and clouds above the white ceilings of the beautifully designed, over 100.000 square foot large, museum space.

Online, a click a way to be explored, to be further developed and evolved with additional rooms to come, to host master-classes with contributions from qualified people in fashion and culture and to hold 18 different galleries in one museum, that was the gift to everyone. Mr. Giammetti continues his virtual tour of the museum and summarizes key points of the navigation, explains what we are about to see and with the extensive volume of the work shown, he smilingly states, that all this is just the work of one man only, and his life dedicated to beauty.

For the future of the museum he adds:
“And we hope that one day, for the young students in the room and students who are live online, we will be able to create a competition for an award for the best of you… and now its time to enter the Valentino Garavani Virtual museum!” The extended version of the preview is shown on the screen and takes us –chaperoned by cool music- through a variety of galleries and is, by the end, welcomed by applause of the audience.

  Miss Hathaway then welcomes Valentino  and Mr. Giammetti back on stage and  invites a “Dear friends of the Valentino  Family as well…Hugh Jackman is in the  audience, would you please come and join  us?!”

They all together symbolically open the  museum and the screen shows the large  red cube in the museum entrance being unwrapped from a giant bow. An exciting presentation of an astonishing gift by a visionary team of two.

For more information please visit the virtual museum application online which is ready and available for download for both Mac and PC operating systems.

Photos Courtesy of Johannes Huebl