FOR fashion illustrator and VOGUE.CO.UK blogger David Downton, the work of Valentino Garavani holds a particular poignancy.

« My first couture experience was drawing Valentino fittings at The Ritz in Paris – it was like entering Narnia, » he told us. « He is the last of the old-school couturiers. Lightness of touch, rigorous discipline and an unfailing glamour aesthetic are his hallmarks. »

So, as the hotly-anticipated exhibition celebrating the life and work of the designer opens at Somerset House, London today, Downton reveals his favourite Valentino illustrations, and gives us his take on the designer’s use of his signature colour – red: « There is cardinal red and rose red. Come-to-bed red and go-to-hell red. But when it comes to a red dress, there is really only Valentino. As someone once said, Valentino invented red. »

Scarlett Kilcooley-O’Halloran for VOGUE UK

David Downton est l’un de mes illustrateurs préféré.  Ma salle de bain est couverte de ses dessins, je ne m’en lasse pas.  Le voici qui salue son ami le grand Valentino, à sa manière à lui: unique.  Comme le Maestro!

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