Virtual Valentino museum opens, sets the bar for digital designer archives

Valentino Garavani and Giancarlo Giammetti

The Valentino Garavani Virtual Museum launched today, and is well worth a look.

As reported last month, it showcases five decades of the designer’s fashion history in an immersive 3-D experience; 300 dresses, 5000 images, 100 show videos, all in an equivalent real-world space of 10,000sq m.

Although officially retired from Valentino ‘the brand’, Valentino Garavani and his business partner Giancarlo Giammetti (pictured above) have been working on it for the past two years.

Speaking at a press conference in New York this morning (watch on YouTube), the duo explained that the aim was to showcase the work of a “life dedicated to beauty”, and make it accessible to as many people as possible.

It’s a particularly interesting move for a traditionally non tech-savvy brand (Giammetti joked at Valentino’s inability to even turn the television on).

“It all started with where to keep the enormous amount of things we’ve collected for nearly 50 years,” said Giammetti. “How to make it available to everyone that wants to see it; and how to make it exciting year after year without things becoming dusty or obsolete. Why not then use modern technology… where everyone can move with just a click.”

Albeit in essence a legacy space, Giammetti was quick to highlight that the work continues tomorrow; both in terms of keeping up with technological change, and providing fresh content.

Indeed to encourage return visitors, there will be frequent updates to the museum, be it additional rooms, new drawings and ideas – as suggested by Valentino – or video insights from the likes of Franca Sozzani, editor-in-chief of Italian Vogue who also spoke this morning.

Giammetti pointed out that the museum was funded by themselves and has no sponsors. For them, the numbers are irrelevant, he said. The app is free to download in anycase.

Nonetheless, it will be intriguing to see how it actually does. The McQueen exhibition at the Met was one of the Costume Institute’s most successful of all time; if you were interested in fashion – indeed even if you weren’t – it proved a must-see on the New York calendar this year. Could an online museum ever have the same pulling power?

But perhaps that’s irrelevant. What counts is that Valentino is advancing the fashion industry. While digital destinations to accompany exhibitions have been played with for a few years, virtual archive museums in their entirety are now likely to become increasingly commonplace.

Hollywood actress Anne Hathaway, who hosted the press conference, explained how Valentino and Giammetti together helped shape the industry in the 1960s. “Now, they’re repeating that inspiration,” she said, “setting the bar for other fashion brands around the world.”

I agree.

See below for a virtual tour of the museum, as well as a number of pictures from within it… 


The museum entrance

The Red Room

The White Room

The Print and Pastels Room

The Animal Print Room

The Embroidery Room

The image library