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Valentino Launches Virtual Museum

Godfrey Deeny
December 05th, 2011 @ 10:45 AM - Paris

Valentino Garavani launched what he billed as the world's first virtual museum for a single designer in a star-studded presentation in New York on Monday, Dec. 5.

“We are witnessing the birth of a revolution,” insisted a bleary-eyed Anne Hathaway, who hosted the launch, before begging the audience's pardon for having been up “far too late” the night before.

Built by French technology company Novacom, the Valentino Garavani Virtual Museum took over two years to build and represents the equivalent of over 100 square-foot exhibition space. However, the New York press conference announcing the museum's launch was not featured on its own website.

“I love the first image of the museum. And, of course, I love the room of red dresses. But it is hard for me to say which one I like the most. They are all like my children,” said the designer in a question time with his business partner Giancarlo Giammetti.

In the presser's most comical moment, Hathaway told the audience that Gwyneth Paltrow calls Giammetti, “Mia Noona, which means my granny.” Before a polite, but clearly peeved Giammetti, sniffed, “actually Gwyneth says Nonno, which means grandfather.”

The Valentino museum site - www.valentino-garavani-archives.org - is free to all visitors, as is the application needed to view it. It was entirely paid for by Valentino and Giammetti and not by the fashion house that the designer no longer controls; though collections by the designer's applauded successors, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli, are featured, albeit only in video format, in a section named Maison Valentino.

“It's a very important moment. I am proud to be here, I am Italian and the first virtual museum is opened by Valentino, an Italian. A museum without any restrictions of time and money,” enthused Italian Vogue editor-in-chief Franca Sozzani.

Designed with multiple galleries with windowed ceilings through which a cloudy blue Roman sky is glimpsed, the museum highlights themes like animal prints, black-and-white, social moments and Sir Val's famed parties. Accompanied by a specially created soundtrack, any tour of the space is facilitated by elaborate maps, 360 degree imagery, special histories of notable dresses and famous advertising campaigns.Though, rather maddeningly, none of the videos have control bars, preventing viewers from scrolling back through any action.

“The museum is a simple connection to the people, to the young designers who have followed me for so many years,” explained Valentino.

“In beginning it was quite difficult for me to understand this project. My entire career was about seeing a real dress on a real woman. Everything alive, the show, the models, the photography was all alive,” added Valentino.

Before, with a twinkle in his eye, Giammetti added that Garavani was especially non-technical. “He does not even know how to turn on a TV!” he smiled.

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