Miami’s Wynwood Arts District finally has a fashion destination worthy of the truly discerning collector as New York legend Keni Valenti opens up his archives to showcase the most historically important designers as Art. Keni Valenti Gallery previewed his captivating Yves Saint Laurent treasures with Miami Beach Magazine just before the March opening. The show includes a priceless dusky blue 1959 Christian Dior Couture evening gown that was part of YSL’s landmark collection. Practically invisible from the street, the hidden gallery sports a vaguely ghostly image of a young Yves Saint Laurent painted by artist Javier Mayoral.
Walking us through the display, Valenti recounts how he packed up the softly gathered strapless couture gown and traveled to Paris to have the atelier authenticate his find, only to be told at first that it wasn’t genuine. Pressing his luck, Valenti insisted that while the archives only listed that the gown was shown in black with a soft black rose embellishment, his blue version must have been an alternate color way of the famed dress. Within a day he received a call confirming that his evening dress was indeed authentic, so now he’s included the quietly romantic frock in his first Miami show.
Valenti travels the world collecting the most important designer fashions – both high and low – and adds his discoveries to his comprehensive design archives. Preparing to open his first Miami fashion venture, he pauses briefly to pull up his pant leg to reveal the socks he scored this week at the H & M launch of the Marni capsule collection. Confirming that he joined the pilgrimage of Miami’s most dedicated fashion hounds who traveled over an hour to Palm Beach Gardens to comb the nearest H & M, Valenti’s eyes begin to twinkle as he shares his most recent fashion victory – “I got great stuff,” he grins. Even with the opening of his Miami showroom just days away, Valenti never stops shopping!
While every garment on the robin’s egg blue mannequins at the Wynwood Gallery is for sale, Valenti’s ultimate dream is to curate his 10,000 piece collection at a Miami Museum of Fashion sometime soon. Brimming with fashion history and entertaining anecdotes about a life spent hunting and gathering, Valenti is anxious to share what he knows with the next generation of aspiring fashionistas. When pressed about parting with key pieces from the exhibit – which includes signature looks from YSL’s Safari, Smoking and Russian Collections – Valenti whisks open the gold lamé curtain at the back of the exhibition space to reveal a rolling rack with dozens of pristine vintage YSL treasures that did not make it into the first round of the show. With a single gesture, the King of Fashion reveals that this gallery is just like Keni Valenti himself – there’s so much more than meets the eye!
Keni Valenti Gallery is located at 2612 NW Second Avenue in the Wynwood section of Miami, FL.
Photos courtesy of Keni Valenti