Valentino Garavani is the subject of a sweeping new retrospective at Somerset House in London, which opened Thursday. “Valentino: Master of Couture,” features over 130 hand-crafted items celebrating the life and work of Valentino and the designers 50-year career, including dresses worn by Grace Kelly and Jackie O

The exhibition at Somerset House focuses on haute couture — luxurious hand-embroidered, sewn and even painted gowns that each took hundreds of hours of painstaking work to create. Highlights include an elaborate, pearl-encrusted wedding dress worn in 1995 by Princess Marie-Chantal of Greece, which took 25 seamstresses and four months to complete.12-1-2012 1-49-38 PM11-30-2012 11-15-22 AM11-30-2012 11-18-34 AM11-30-2012 11-18-53 AM11-30-2012 11-27-23 AM12-1-2012 12-05-43 PM12-1-2012 12-08-15 PM12-1-2012 12-07-04 PMCopy of 12-1-2012 12-08-56 PMCopy of 12-1-2012 12-29-36 PM12-1-2012 1-46-13 PM11-30-2012 11-26-03 AM11-30-2012 11-26-23 AM12-1-2012 12-10-27 PM12-1-2012 12-09-21 PM11-30-2012 11-26-44 AM
11-30-2012 11-39-57 AM“Valentino: Master of Couture” shows some of the world’s most recognizable gowns: The high-necked, short wedding dress from Valentino’s 1968 White Collection that Jacqueline Kennedy wore for her wedding to Aristotle Onassis, and the black velvet gown with white ribbons worn by Julia Roberts to the Oscars in 2001, when she won best actress.

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Stylish guests at the Valentino: Master of Couture Exhibition private view

11-30-2012 11-11-26 AM Valentino Garavani and Victoria Beckham

11-30-2012 12-00-27 PMCarolina Herrera and Stella McCartney

11-30-2012 12-01-11 PMValentino and Princess Marie-Chantal of Greece

11-30-2012 11-44-35 AMPrincess Eugenie, Sarah Ferguson, Valentino and Princess Beatrice

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Edie Campbell looked lovely in a printed silk dress with pussy-bow neckline.

11-30-2012 11-13-16 AMDita Von Teese

11-30-2012 12-03-32 PM Valentino and Elizabeth Hurley

11-30-2012 12-06-13 PMStyle-setter Olivia Palermo hit all the right fashion notes in her two-tone cream and black lace dress with Johannes Huebl

11-30-2012 12-04-46 PM Stella MacCartney and Giancarlo Giammetti

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“Valentino: Master of Couture” runs through March 3, 2013 at Somerset House (somersethouse.org.uk) and is accompanied a book, Valentino Master of Couture: A Private View (Rizzoli, $35), of Valentino’s personal photographsamazon.co.uk.