Over half a century, the legendary designer has created exquisite, classic gowns for the world's most glamorous women, from Elizabeth Taylor and Sophia Loren to Sarah Jessica Parker and Gwyneth Paltrow.
Now a new London exhibition is bringing together more than 130 of his handcrafted designs, showcasing the intricate detailing that has gone into couture dresses and outfits only a few women in the world could afford.
"Valentino: Master of Couture" shows some of the world's most recognizable gowns: The high-necked, short wedding dress from Valentino's 1968 White Collection that Jacqueline Kennedy wore for her wedding to Aristotle Onassis, and the black velvet gown with white ribbons worn by Julia Roberts to the Oscars in 2001, when she won best actress.
"When people come here for the first time, I think they'll have beautiful things to see," the designer told The Associated Press in an interview Wednesday.
He said even though he knew all the dresses by heart, it was so refreshing to see them all displayed together.
"To me they don't look so old, you understand, because many, many of them they look like I've finished them last evening," he said.
Valentino is so well-known that his name stands on its own. Born Valentino Garavani, he is now 80 and retired four years ago from the fashion house he founded in 1960.
The exhibition at Somerset House focuses on haute couture — luxurious hand-embroidered, sewn and even painted gowns that each took hundreds of hours of painstaking work to create. Highlights include an elaborate, pearl-encrusted wedding dress worn in 1995 by Princess Marie-Chantal of Greece, which took 25 seamstresses and four months to complete.
Visitors will also see original sketches by Valentino, as well as videos showing the techniques that his seamstresses used in creating the garments.
The exhibition opens Thursday and runs through March.
Sylvia Hui can be reached at http://twitter.com/sylviahui