There’s Les Smoking, worn by James Franco on the cover of Candy Magazine in October 2010, the infamous Safari Suit and hat worn by the legendary Verushka in 1968, a few pieces from the Tryolean and Russian collection, power suits from the ‘80s that Valenti calls very “Ivana Trump.” And what he refers to as his showstopper: a 1959 Dior Couture evening gown from the Ballet Russes collection also shot for Italian Vogue by Steven Meisel.
“I’ve been collecting vintage for 30 years, but not regular vintage. I have the Rolls Royce of Vintage clothing. I have Balenciaga, I have Dior, I have YSL. Name a designer. I have it. I have so much YSL, I could’ve done a
show 10 times bigger than this, but this is the space I could afford right now.
“I’d love to one day open up a bigger space and really make it a museum and have tours where people and students can come and learn about the history of fashion because we are losing the art of making couture clothing. Today, things are pumped out like candy because fashion houses have to sell. So you can’t do something too intricate,” Valenti said. The exhibit, open to the public from noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and by appointment, will be up for eight weeks. Then, he will feature Mr. Blackwell’s collection, followed by Halston and Bill Blass.
“I’m working on setting up lectures and having guest speakers come to teach people about the different exhibits,” said Valenti.
But for now, Valenti — who first started out as a fashion designer working for Forucci and Betsey Johnson before turning to styling stars and collecting vintage, wants to perfect his Spanish and enjoy Miami.
“I came to visit Miami for the first time in 2002, and all the New Yorkers were like, ‘What are you doing? Miami is over. Versace is dead and Madonna moved,’ but I didn’t listen. It’s paradise here. I love the people, the Cuban food and I’m working on my Spanish,” Valenti said.
Keni Valenti Gallery is at 2612 NW Second Ave., Miami. Visit www.kenivalenti for more information.