The Somerset House hosts some amazing exhibits and their latest definitely lived up to its reputation, Valentino: Master of Couture. Vanessa Thomas, the fashion designer behind Jesse Rowes in Toronto, accompanied me to this exhibit during her stay here in London. She is currently working on her new collection and what better way to be inspired than being in one of the top fashion capitals of the world and seeing a showcase of 130 Valentino haute couture designs.
The exhibit is broken down into three parts. First you enter a room where a collection of photographs are presented from Valentino’s personal archive. Here you find some magazine covers as well as letters from fashion editors and celebrities. From there you walk down the catwalk where the 130 designs are displayed. These included designs worn by Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Gwyneth Paltrow, Julia Roberts and Audrey Hepburn. In the final section is the incredible wedding dress of Princess Marie Chantal of Greece exemplifying the process of couture. There are also mini tutorial videos demonstrating the processes of some of the designs stitch by stitch. Amazing!
If you can’t make it to the exhibit you can explore the Valentino Garavani Virtual Museum.
If you wander down to Southbank area in London you’re guaranteed to see or learn something new. Last time we were here I learned about sheep, this time it was chocolate!
The Chocolate Festival happens twice a year in London, first at Easter then of course at Christmas. Dozens of booths are in the area showcasing their artisan chocolate, all made from pure ingredients. They have chocolate everything here, from your basic truffles and cakes to chocolate chili and chocolate mulled beer. My personal favourite was learning about Water Ganache, The Chocolatier – A Niche by Aneesh. I had never heard of this concept before and it is simply amazing! The truffles have no cream, no butter, no eggs and no gelatine. Aneesh will only pair his chocolate with high quality fresh ingredients and water. In doing so there is nothing masking the flavour of what you really want, the chocolate. Seriously, his chocolate is so smooth and the best part it doesn’t stick to the top of your mouth. You can buy his chocolates online here.
After the chocolate festival we walked down near the river where the Christmas Market was taking place (pictured in the featured image). This traditional Christmas market is German themed with 80 individually decorated wooden chalets, famous German Bratwurst and “Glühwein” (German Mulled Wine).
Across the bridge from the Christmas market is Somerset House. Here they have outdoor ice skating and a variety of pop-up shops for the Christmas season called The Christmas Arcade. It celebrates British design from exclusively British boutique brands, featuring over 50 designers. I love this idea of popup Britain, truly giving the chance to entrepreneurs who don’t have the finances to take on running a shop on their own. There’s one of these also in Greenwich that I will be sure to get some Christmas gifts at.