How Valentino Illustrated the Five Senses at an Event

The fashion house chose the former home of the Whitney Museum of American Art as the site for its sensory-driven Fornasetti exhibition.

By Jim Shi December 23, 2014, 8:00 AM EST

Photo: Dean Kaufman

To celebrate the brand’s new David Chipperfield-designed Fifth Avenue flagship, Valentino designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli looked to honor the work of another great architect—Marcel Breuer—by hosting a one-off couture fashion show and Fornasetti art exhibit in the late design icon’s Upper East Side space that was, until recently, the home of the Whitney Museum of American Art.

With a light snow blanketing Manhattan the night of December 10, guests, including Katie Holmes, Valentino Garavani, Olivia Munn, Emma Roberts, and Sofia Coppola, all gathered for the, appropriately enough, all-white fashion show entitled Sala Bianca 945—a combined reference to the fashion house founder’s namesake 1960s show in Rome and the museum’s Madison Avenue address.

Prior to the show, however, attendees were treated to a specially curated showcase of Piero Fornasetti’s work and his namesake retail brand’s products during an extended cocktail hour. The late Italian artist’s famed Surrealist pieces were chosen to highlight “The Five Senses,” a one-night-only exhibit that ranged from a grand piano in a blacked-out room with butterfly holograms to dozens of Fornasetti plates—each one depicting a different variation of a woman’s face—wallpapering an entire wall.

According to the fashion house, “With New York as the universe, we can see the Breuer building transform itself into a temporary time capsule, a spaceship where Valentino’s and Fornasetti’s journey take place.”

Gina Rogak, the Whitney Museum’s director of special events, said the Brutalist-style venue is available for rental for a limited time before renovation work commences in preparation for next year’s Metropolitan Museum of Art takeover. In addition to Valentino’s use of the space, Ziff Brothers Investments also hosted its holiday party there.

The fashion house chose the Breuer-designed building for not only its large gallery spaces of differing scales and proportions that, coincidentally, were vacated following a Jeff Koons retrospective, but also as the ultimate “container” and “packaging” to showcase the Fornasetti exhibit.

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