Sunday, 9 December 2012

Valentino - A Sewing Adventure

Yesterday I went on my first sewing/blog related adventure and it was a great experience. There are 2 halves to this post really (1) meeting a fellow blogger and (2) the actual exhibition.

Some months ago Sam, blogging at A Little of What You Fancy, suggested a trip to the Valentino Exhibition at Somerset House. I really wanted to go, I don't have any IRL sewing friends who would want to go for the same reasons as me, even though they'd happily come along.

It's a funny thing, this blogging lark. You kind of know somebody but not really. I'm not always very brave and tend to talk too much to overcompensate (I suspect I did do that - sorry Sam!). Well, my recommendation is - be brave! Sam as is lovely as her blog suggests and it was a joy to go to the exhibition with another sewer. We exchanged emails and a phone call beforehand and all the arrangements went really smoothly. It helped enormously that we've seen photos of each other and she was wearing her new coat which is beautiful (and lined - more on that below!), saves wearing a pink carnation!

We'd never have met if it wasn't for a shared love of sewing and having new blogs. Even if this blogging business has been harder than either of us had expected. It was a great ice breaker to go to an event we were both interested in and we had lunch afterwards and a good chat. My OH picked me up at the station and said "I can tell you had a lovely day." - I did, thanks Sam.

So, to the actual Exhibition - it was wonderful. Of course you can't take photos, the ones I've used here are the official press photos. It was £12 for a ticket, I think it was worth every penny. And Somerset House is easy to get to, Sam and I travelled in to different London mainline stations but it's a straightforward tube journey. The exhibition is at the Embankment side of Somerset House so aim for that entrance.

There were far more garments than I expected to see and although behind barriers they are not behind glass. This was a real positive, you could actually get quite close and see details. The guide book contains a brief description of each garment and the collection it came from. Also, there's a glossary in the back for all the couture terminology - very useful.

The clothes weren't arranged chronologically but rather by technique or theme (eg all the handpainted fabric garments were together, spanning decades). I loved it and would recommend it, you get a morning or afternoon ticket which lasts 4 hours - Sam and I were in there over 3 hours so allow yourself time.

One of the best bits for me was the last section of the exhibition. There were examples of different techniques, some unique to Valentino, and then screens showing how they are achieved. We even identified a couple we thought we could do - although we weren't sure how we'd turn them into a garment!

There were a couple of things that really struck me:

Attention to detail - I guess this is obviously going to be the case for couture garments but, oh boy, the work in some of those dresses was amazing. And, just because you can do all the techniques doesn't mean you should, sometimes the absence of something is what made the garment stunning. Some of my least favourites were from the 80s/90s when there was a definite fashion for throwing everything at it - just not my cup of tea. My favourite tiny detail was on a shirt cuff - I'm going to give it a go and blog about it in the new year.

Don't be too hard on yourself - there were details both Sam and I picked up on that we would have fretted over if we'd made the garment - isn't that bizarre? Now Sam is a much more skilled sewer than I but neither of us would have had a bias binding hem on a skirt with the bias join practically in the centre front, I'd have had to do it again! And there were unlined coats all over the place. Now I'm going to try to take a different view - 'if it's good enough for Valentino' is my new mantra!

And finally, an important message:

Dear Father Christmas

I haven't actually been terribly good, there's no fooling you. But, if you're feeling forgiving, please could I have the outfit on the left in this photo, cream organza with flower detail, as worn by Audrey Hepburn in 1968. It is absolutely perfect.

Thank you





  1. Oooh, you're good, blogging this early on a Sunday! I've only just crawled out of bed!

    So glad you enjoyed yesterday as much as I did. It was a beautiful exhibition and it was wonderful being able to share it with someone who loved it as much as I did.

    And no, you didn't talk too much!

  2. Ha, ha! Do you want to know my secret? Blogging in bed! I do love my iPad, Paul made breakfast, I wrote my post in my pjs - what an image that leaves you with! Thanks for yesterday x


Thank you so much for taking the time to comment :)