Forever Valentino – About the Galleries

The exhibition galleries feature more than 200 Valentino Haute Couture pieces and pret-à-porter outfits, accompanied by accessories and fashion objects displayed in an immersive scenography.

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Photo: Ali Al Anssari, courtesy of Qatar Museums ©2022


Forever Valentino observes the life of Maison Valentino, spanning over six decades of expertise, inspiration, and magic. Conceived as a vast panoramic view of the history of the fashion house, this exhibition is an emotional dramaturgy embedded in an immersive scenography evoking Rome, the Eternal City, which has been Valentino’s home since its foundation in 1959. It is a conversation between past and present, an exploration of a legacy, an anticipation of a future. A perspective, not a retrospective.

Valentino has built a profound connection with Rome. Establishing the Maison in 1959, at the height of La Dolce Vita, Valentino Garavani cultivated a never-ending love affair with the Eternal City. In the work of Pierpaolo Piccioli—Valentino’s sole Creative Director since 2016—Rome appears less as an exclusive emblem of opulence and more as a vibrant, multicultural metropolis. This exhibition builds a dreamlike image of spectacular Roman vistas and the intimate spaces of Maison Valentino, re-creating the spaces of its famed home, the Palazzo Gabrielli-Mignanelli. Valentino’s creations are here displayed in dialogue with the many sources of inspiration that have stirred the creativity of both Valentino Garavani and his successor Pierpaolo Piccioli.

Fashion echoes and contradicts its surroundings—like Rome, it, too, can be simultaneously grand yet intimate, quotidian yet exceptional. Rather than recontextualizing Valentino within the walls of a museum, the objects on display evoke their own context, embedded in both the heritage of the Maison and their birthplace, part of the history of fashion, culture, and Rome.

Forever Valentino stages a pop-up, dreamlike vision of Rome, more enticing when seen in Doha, a city where the past and the future meet at a dizzying speed.

A Palazzo

Red is Valentino. A colour first used in Valentino Garavani’s debut collection in 1959 and present ever since, it is synonymous with the Maison. And if red is the heartbeat coursing through the designs of Valentino, this exhibition leads us to the heart of the Maison. We enter a re-creation of the Palazzo Gabrielli-Mignanelli, Valentino’s home since 1968, a bold reimagining of the Palazzo’s internal courtyard with the monumental work of Igor Mitoraj at its center.

The broader cultural meanings of the colour red align with perceptions of Valentino—the colour of optimism and auspiciousness, authority and abundance, passion and love. In 1985, a particular shade of red, noted for its vibrant energy, was christened Rosso Valentino. In all, more than 550 nuances of red are present within Maison’s Couture archives alone.

Thirty-four examples are gathered in this gallery, exemplifying how Rosso Valentino is, indeed, a fil rouge that connects each Creative Director of the Maison—Alessandra Facchinetti (2007–08), Maria Grazia Chiuri (2008–2016), and Pierpaolo Piccioli (2008–present)—to Garavani’s vision of beauty and his noble ideals.

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Courtesy of Valentino SpA


The start of any creative process is always carte blanche—an empty page, a piece of calico, an idea. The fitting room of the Palazzo Gabrielli-Mignanelli—used by Valentino Garavani to refine his creations and still at the centre of Pierpaolo Piccioli’s creative process today—is the place where a collection begins, translating the previously imaginary into its first physical form: a toile, in white calico or muslin.

In Haute Couture, toiles take the place of two-dimensional paper dressmaking patterns—refined on the living body and later painstakingly deconstructed—providing Couture’s blueprint for creation. It is where the life of a garment commences.

This room showcases the beginnings of not only a collection but also of Valentino. It presents two important looks from two of Valentino’s earliest collections from 1967–68, sublimations of the traditional white coat or blouse Blanche, worn by the seamstresses of Couture Ateliers. They stand watch over Fiesta, the first red dress from Spring/Summer 1959. This historical piece is mirrored by its modern counterpart: a cape directly inspired by the look and youthful spirit of the original, which opened Piccioli’s Valentino The Beginning Haute Couture collection in 2022.

Des Ateliers

If the courtyard represents the physical heart of Valentino, the Ateliers are its soul. The four workrooms, which bring designers’ dreams to life, are animated by devoted seamstresses with unparalleled expertise. It is within these walls that they can create the impossible—the highest expression of fashion as an art form and a vehicle for exceptional creativity and virtuoso technique.

Artisan craft and artistic expression have been the trademarks of Haute Couture for centuries, connecting these clothes back to the Renaissance. Haute Couture excellence today focuses on two European capitals, Paris and Rome. The expert seamstresses are part of Valentino’s family, and the essence of its excellence and their personalities are as important as their vast knowledge and prowess—they imprint their characters and stories on the cloth of their creations.

This room is dedicated to the world-renowned skills of Valentino’s Ateliers and the savoir-faire that characterizes true Haute Couture. Several techniques on display have been invented entirely by the seamstresses of the Maison Valentino—passed between generations of artisans; they are unique to its creations and the distinct language of its Haute Couture.

While Haute Couture is undoubtedly a bold expression of a designer’s unbridled creativity, at Maison Valentino, it is also an essential service to a global clientele.

Haute Couture clothes are unique, made-to-order, and cut and fitted to each woman. A part of the culture of Haute Couture is that the client enters a relationship with the Atelier, evolving and adapting designs to reflect her own life. Fabrics may be changed, silhouettes altered, and designs combined, which give a couturier’s creations new vitality and a different perspective. This essential, entirely personal reflection of luxury is vital in translating Haute Couture from imagination to reality.

A quintessential dialogue between a couturier and the Ateliers becomes a conversation in which the client actively participates in a reciprocal creative dialogue. In this room, Haute Couture pieces are curated from a selection of Valentino’s most famous clients spanning its lifetime. Each one serves not only as a reflection of the codes and creativity of the Maison but also as a revelatory, intimate, emotional portrait of each woman they were created for.

Capriccio Romano

Conceived by geniuses of the Baroque, such as Giovanni Antonio Canaletto and Giovanni Battista Piranesi, the art of the capriccio turned marvellous Italian landscapes into enchanted mirages, creating many of the icons and myths that still inform the perception of Italy today. In this gallery, the notion of the capriccio inspires a treatment of Rome as a monochromatic cinematic reverie, drawing on the notable works of Italian neorealist auteurs such as Vittorio De Sica, Roberto Rossellini, Giuseppe De Santis, and Pier Paolo Pasolini, who themselves present their own fantasies of Rome.

Similarly, black and white are also key colours for Maison Valentino. By restricting the palette, emphasis is placed on volume and form, while decorative elements have a sculptural sense through the application of fabric. This room showcases allusions between the clothes of Valentino and architectures that define Rome’s identity—the Gasometer and Colosseum, modernity and classicism juxtaposed.

Four white and silver dresses from Pierpaolo Piccioli’s 2020 Of Grace And Light Valentino Haute Couture collection are shown in this gallery, underscoring the importance of cinema as a modern capriccio. As in their original presentation, the dresses are used as canvasses for the projection of films created in collaboration with Nick Knight. Fittingly, the collection was unveiled at the legendary Cinecittà film studios in Rome, a dream factory once again helping to craft the sublime.


Divas have always been associated with Valentino. From its earliest years, the Maison has dressed exceptional women traditionally afforded this title from around the world. Many reside in the realm of Hollywood: figures world-renowned, internationally fêted and instantly recognised. Translated from Latin, diva means “goddess”. But today, a diva can be something different.

For Pierpaolo Piccioli—who studied literature before his career in fashion and, consequently, always expresses a keen interest in the power of language—“DI.VAs” is a wordplay, an acronym denoting “Different Values.” It describes a promotion of authenticity, progressive ideals and diversity, connecting figures across cultures—Valentino’s DI.VAs are strong, empowered, empowering, remarkable and multifaceted. Although this definition is new, it retroactively applies to the figures drawn to Valentino and Valentino to them—upholding shared inner values and beliefs.

Valentino’s DI.VAs are universally famous—but they have always used that fame as a means of communication, a way to express their belief systems and affect change in the society around them. Their fashion, in turn, has been an essential component in imparting their messages.

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Courtesy of Valentino SpA


A fashion show is a vehicle of thought for a designer, a medium for conveying their message and creative vision. The wordless pageant and rich sensorial display of the fashion show can be allied to ceremonies of state, the choreography of ballet and even silent film.

Pierpaolo Piccioli has challenged the conventional limitations of the runway show, partnering with artists, designers, musicians and writers to expand our point of view. Valentino’s Fall/Winter 2022 ready-to-wear show in Paris introduced a new colour, developed in collaboration with Pantone Color Institute. Valentino Pink PP is an intense shade of magenta that subsumed garments and décor alike in a surreal monochrome universe. Alongside a text and series of mantras created by the author Douglas Coupland, the show played with ideas of the purpose and impact of the fashion show—the all-encompassing hue blurred lines between clothing and environment, a postmodern camouflage.

That challenging outlook and shifting of vantage points are mirrored in this gallery. Re-created through a series of screens, an imaginary backstage space—peopled with fractured video views of the Valentino Fall/Winter 2022 runway show—is a precursor to the revelation of the debut and finale looks from that collection, as if frozen in a perpetual, never-ending fashion show.


The concept of the Wunderkammer, or “cabinet of curiosities,”, emerged in mid–sixteenth-century Europe. It blurred the lines between real and make-believe, dazzling onlookers and exciting minds in a thirst for knowledge. The term “cabinet” does not denote furniture but rather an entire room, home to collections of objects that combined fantastical elements of nature with manmade or manufactured, objects of science and superstition, and pieces from different cultures.

The idea of the Wunderkammer inspired Pierpaolo Piccioli and Maria Grazia Chiuri’s Fall/Winter 2013 collection. The opening look was a dress with jacquard patterns of fauna and flora encased in lace, a piece conceived as a Wunderkammer in cloth. Yet the notion is also evident throughout the whole craft of Haute Couture, demonstrated in this gallery in an entire selection of curiosities gathered from the history of Valentino, used as tools and totems to provoke and excite an audience.

At the time of its birth the Wunderkammer was described as a theatre of wisdom. Like Haute Couture collections, the Wunderkammers were not mere displays of wealth or status. They were more complex and nuanced, expressing the culture, interests, and aspirations of their collectors.


Contrary to popular belief, the archives of great fashion houses are not dusty repositories but rather living, breathing spaces, electric with the dynamic energy of past triumphs, ready to inspire future creation and poised to tell their own stories. They can also be enigmatic, specially devised to conceal their artefacts in order to protect them.

Looking through a fashion house’s history is a thrilling voyage of discovery and rediscovery, one usually closely guarded and offered to a chosen few. Pierpaolo Piccioli’s work is in constant conversation with the oeuvre of Valentino Garavani, which is held in the Maison’s archive within Valentino’s home of the Palazzo Gabrielli-Mignanelli. It is within these walls, within this history, that the signs and signifiers of Valentino’s present can be unearthed, vibrant and alive as ever.

As archaeologists, we dig deep to discover these treasures. Displayed in this gallery, and spanning five decades, are the memories of the Maison—fantastic and extraordinary pieces drawn from the heritage of Valentino, waiting to be discovered within drawers or hidden in cases. In doing so, we mirror the journey of a Creative Director, uncovering the heritage of a Maison, breathing new life into its past.

Cahiers de Defile

For every collection executed as solo Creative Director of Valentino, Pierpaolo Piccioli has charted his creative process through a document he dubs the Cahier de Defile. Part diary, part aide-mémoire and composed of inspirational images and sketches, fabric developments, notes, spontaneous Polaroid images and more, these books are compiled after each collection is completed. Collating the fragments that made each design possible, their mood is one of heirloom, of souvenir—a charting of thought and feeling.

The Cahiers de Defile immortalise every element, from earliest emotional responses through to even the show invitation and topography of each show’s venue, recalling the intricate choreography of the models as the collection debuts. These intensely private and personal documents, comprising a “collection of collections”, are shown in this gallery for the first time in their entirety.

Alongside the process are the results. A selection of outfits has been drawn from Piccioli’s collections since 2016, exemplifying the exuberant colour sense, audacious volumes, daring proportions, and brave challenges to the convention that characterise his influential work. Many displayed pieces comprise the collection’s first or final looks, the powerful opening and closing aesthetic statements of their season.

Roman Conversations

A Roman landmark both philosophically and physically close to Valentino, the rococo grandeur of the Spanish Steps has served as a theatrical backdrop to some of Valentino’s most triumphant moments. A place of rendezvous, alive every day, this monument is naturally aligned with the procession of a fashion show. It has, thus, been an inspired setting for the showcase of the Maison’s designs for decades—most recently Pierpaolo Piccioli’s Valentino The Beginning Haute Couture show.

The Spanish Steps represent diverse views of Rome—a city of ancient imagination and modern fable that is immortalised and reimagined through the lens of cinema, architecture and art. And of Valentino. Reimagined as a spectacular podium, these steps are a vantage point to view another series of exchanges and conversations between the work of Valentino Garavani and Piccioli. Over fifty Haute Couture ensembles are showcased in striking contrast and harmonious discourse. And through this visual debate, they are engaged in a pure expression of colour, representing a spectrum of creativity.

Colour has always been a vital component of Maison Valentino. Red is its signature, but the joyous conveyance of feeling through specific shades exists throughout the Maison’s history.