Must-see Museums from Gucci, Balenciaga and Valentino

Jetting across the Atlantic this summer? Don’t just set your fashion compass at predictable (squeezing past security guards to get into Colette in Paris, snagging a snapshot at 31 Rue Cambon for a taste of Coco Chanel, lingering at La Scala for Dolce costuming). Your new itinerary: fashion museums.

Storied fashion houses have been eagerly adding their own landmarks to each cityscape, giving fashion sojourners ever more sumptuous ways to experience the brand. We’ve got your go-to spots planned and they include the likes of the majestic Gucci Museo and the past-meets-future Christobal Balenciaga Museoa. But for the truly insatiable, click onto the Valentino Garavani Virtual Museum now. You don’t even have to leave your chair.

Gucci Museum, Florence, Italy

Gucci Museo, Florence, Italy

Gucci Museum, Florence, Italy

Gucci Museo, Florence, Italy

Gucci Museum Bookstore, Florence, Italy

Gucci Museo Bookstore, Florence, Italy

To celebrate their 90th anniversary last year, Gucci unveiled the Gucci Museo in a three-story building dating back to 1337. Inside, you can trace the brand back to its roots as a leather goods company and peer through the archives, which include works from Tom Ford and current creative director Frida Giannini. You’ll recognize some pieces — such as Ford’s GG-emblazoned yoga mats — in the Logomania exhibit (it occupies an entire floor) and see rare objects like a Gucci-upholstered car from the ’70s. The exhibits are organized so that you can see the development of Gucci from a small Florentine company to the worldwide mega-brand it is today.

The museum even boasts space for traveling exhibits. Through September 4, the Museo is hosting Paul Fryer’s “Lo Spirito Vola,” an exhibition featuring his work “Pietà,” a wax statue of Jesus sitting in an electric chair.

In addition to exhibits, you can take in the bookstore, which offers art and fashion titles sourced from around the world and browse photos of celebs in Gucci gear, including Grace Kelly, Sophia Loren and Elizabeth Taylor. Exit through the gift shop? If you’re an impulse shopper you might want to skip it altogether. More like a Gucci boutique than a place to pick up postcards, the shop could inspire you to walk out with a classic Jackie bag or one of Giannini’s sex-on-stilettos statement shoes. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

For more information, visit the Gucci Museo’s Web site at www.gucci.com

Cristóbal Balenciaga Museoa, Getaria, Spain

Cristóbal Balenciaga Museoa, Getaria, Spain

Cristóbal Balenciaga Museoa, Getaria, Spain

Cristóbal Balenciaga Museoa, Getaria, Spain

Though it’s a bit off the beaten path, the Christóbal Balenciaga Museoa is worth the trek. It’s situated in small fishing village, and if you ask the locals about Christóbal himself you might still meet a few that knew him personally. As a child, he and his mother (who was a seamstress) would visit Getaria when she had appointments, and today it’s the home to Balenciaga’s eponymous museum.

Inside, there’s a collection of Balenciaga that dates back to the days before Christóbal made it big in Paris, including an outfit he made for his cousin for her honeymoon. The majority of the pieces inside were collected since the ’80s and much of it has been donated by Hubert de Givenchy (yes, that Givenchy), who happens to be the president of the Christóbal Balenciaga Foundation.

Even the museum itself is easily identified as Balenciaga. Like much of the fashion house’s work today, it’s helmed by Nicholas Ghesquière. The sleek, modern building blends modern with traditional, and connects to the villa, which belonged to the Marquis and Marquesa of Casa Torres. Exhibits weave in and out of both buildings seamlessly. Divided into wedding, evening, cocktail and day wear, the collection will be rotated annually.

For more information, visit the Christóbal Balenciaga Museoa Web site at www.christobalbalenciagamuseoa.com

Valentino Garavani Virtual Museum

Valentino Garavani Virtual Museum

Valentino Garavani Virtual Museum

Valentino Garavani Virtual Museum

If your passport needs a renewal but you’re still craving a fashion exhibition, stay right where you are and log in to the Valentino Garavani Virtual Museum. Available anywhere in the world, it’s the fashion world’s first museum that’s free, open 24/7 and perfectly accepting of you in your pajamas.

An online archive of the past five decades, the virtual museum blends interactive 3D models with the sketches that inspired them as well as photos of celebrities wearing Valentino creations. Over 100 of the label’s fashion shows are available to watch and 5,000 dresses are online for you to examine from the comfort of your own home. The museum is even updated every eight weeks with fresh material, including interviews with Valentino Garavani himself (and his beloved pugs). His most famous work, such as Jacqueline Kennedy’s wedding gown and Julia Robert’s Academy Awards dress can be seen in even further detail, with explanations of cut, fabrication, embroidery and more.

Unlike other museum exhibitions, which can be limited by space constraints and the fragility of certain pieces, the Valentino Garavani Virtual Museum has an almost unlimited amount of room to grow. And as more and more of Valentino’s pieces get archived (down to every last, red gown) the museum just keeps growing.

The Valentino Garavani Virtual Museum is located at www.valentino-garavani-archives.org

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Author:Fashion Trends Daily Staff

Fashion Trends Daily Editors deliver the scoop on fashion, beauty, celebrity and runway trends.