Valentino’s new Beijing exhibition explores the role of fashion
‘Re-Signify Part Two’ juxtaposes items from the Valentino archive and the work of contemporary artists such as Cao Fei, Xu Zhen, and Nick Knight
Following the opening of the ‘Re-Signify’ exhibition in Shanghai last year, Valentino is unveiling the second chapter of the multimedia experience, this time in Beijing’s SKP South’s T-10 exhibition space.
Like its predecessor, ‘Re-Signify Part Two’ is curated by creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli around four pillars of Valentino’s identity – Haute Couture, the Atelier, the Stud, and the VLogo – and this year will feature an additional room dedicated to Valentino’s newly launched beauty line.
The exhibition juxtaposes objects from Valentino’s archive that exemplify these pillars alongside the work of 18 contemporary artists, including Cao Fei, Xu Zhen, Gioele Amaro, Robert Müller, Liu Shiyuan, Cheng Ran, Shen Xin, Xu Wenkai, Amkk, Jonas Mekas, Yeesookyung, Nick Knight, Jacopo Benassi, Pajama, Robert Del Naja, Wu Rui and Alessandro Teoldi.
The result is an immersive dive into the brand’s creative lexicon, from its own iconic symbolism to its external contemporary influences. More broadly, it is also a thought-provoking examination of two topics that have long fascinated the maison – the role of clothing in contemporary culture and the impact of the modern city on our consumption of fashion.
Take, for instance, two works by the renowned Chinese artist, and recent Wallpaper* contributor, Cao Fei. Her Cosplayers (2004) creates a digital world populated with people in ‘cosplay’, or video game and comic book costumes, and examines the transformative power of clothing and the line we draw between clothing and disguise.
Also on show is the artist’s Haze and Fog (2013), which uses the vernacular of horror cinema to create a magical city in which people and zombies co-exist.
In a similar vein, Cheng Ran’s Diary of a Madman is a multi-video installation that distorts depictions of the West’s most documented city, New York, to create a disorienting vision. The work is set alongside four looks of the ready-to-wear Valentino Act Collection, with a drastic black colour palette and punk-inspired aesthetic that complements the gloomy atmosphere created by Cheng’s work.
Another notable inclusion is the Nick Knight installation Valentino of Grace and Light, which sees various Knight photographs projected onto a range of archive and newly designed Valentino Haute Couture dresses. The result is a new, dynamic look at the Valentino oeuvre that blends the physical and the digital to, in the words of the brand, ‘produce an estrangement that is fascinating and… dreamlike’.
Through these works and more, visitors to ‘Re-Signify Part Two’ will encounter an intriguing interplay between the symbology of an iconic fashion house and the work of contemporary artists. Resulting, perhaps, in a new perspective on the function of clothing in our contemporary society. §