As he slowly pulls back the undulating silver curtain along an expanse of rear wall, a wizard’s laugh trickles from his lips. There in front of us hangs a floor to ceiling, wall to wall, homage to former nights and days of heady glamor. We have been allowed to glimpse the strings behind the magic of Valenti’s lifelong passion; a vast closet of quintessential moments captured by dress designer’s of yore, shimmering in a sea of sumptuous fabrics. Oooooooh......aaaaaahhhh! We are hooked.
Armed with a coterie of like-minded souls, my threesome made a necessary appointment to view this new addition to our city’s canvas. We made extra effort to make sure we were not sporting pulled threads or ugly shoes for our foray to the land of Valenti.
Fresh out of the box from New York, Keni Valenti has transported a long and illustriously varied career in fashion to the heart of Wynwood, adding his brand of vintage kick to an already up and running area filled with creativity, flashes of insight and panache. His collection of vintage designer togs is lovingly and beautifully presented in a small but cleverly installed space called (what else?) the Keni Valenti Gallery. Famous for his gorgeously abundant vintage collection, many TV and movies have often sourced from his showrooms. He’s been around a few bolts of cloth in his day, now choosing Miami to plop down the racks of beautiful, often one-of-a-kind designs from huge names past and present. (A background as a master pattern maker for Betsy Johnson was expanded to working for Prada, Coach, Ralph Lauren.....need I go on?) So much of of this topic relates to South Florida. A teardrop chandelier illuminating his gallery is of unknown origin, but would be right at home in a sitting room of a vintage Eden Rock or Fountainebleau, for all you Mad Men and Magic City fashion fanatics. Two white painted, pink upholstered Louis-the-something-or-other chairs adorn the salon, popping from deep aqua monochromatic walls / floor / ceiling/ manikins, decor.
Valenti intends to rotate his collection in a series of informative exhibitions, lectures and educational center, if all goes according to plan. Each exhibition will last for 2 months, so move along over there for a slice of history. Keni intends the shows to be a precursor to the “development of his Museum of Fashion destined for the city of Miami, where he will curate his more than 10,000 piece collection documenting the history of fashion and its importance in art and culture.”