Wednesday 17 November 2010

Valentino’s Swansong in Rome

45-year love affair with glamour

“La Dolce Vita”

was the spirit of a Roman weekend in 2007 when Valentino threw a red extravaganza ~ the soundtrack of Fellini’s iconic 1960 movie kicked off Valentino’s couture show. The designer had come back from Paris to his home city and he embraced it with a light spirit and deep opulence.

Rome hadn’t seen such a bright red carpet in decades, probably since the ‘Dolce Vita’ 1960′s, which coincided with the beginning of the 75-year-old designer’s career, as golden boy of the international jet-set. Moving to Rome in the early 1960s is where Valentino found success. This period coincided with an era of Roman glamour – La Dolce Vita – that the mayor, Walter Veltroni, was keen to recapture. Veltroni gave his full support to Valentino’s celebrations, permitting the use of historic venues such as the Santo Spirito in Sassia, founded in 727 as a refuge centre for pilgrims to the nearby tomb of the apostle Peter, and the Galleria Borghese.

To celebrate the 45th anniversary of Valentino’s career a fashion extravaganza took place in Rome, 6 – 8 July 2007. Festivities started on Thursday 5 July with a dinner for Valentino’s assistants and employees at Ristorante Gusto and ended on Sunday 8 July with the launch of a perfume and a brunch at the French Academy of Villa Medici.

Valentino has had a long and storied career, and with such a public position many of his relationships have been known. The fashion business very often crosses paths with the gossip journalism industry, with so many celebrities being so heavily involved. Valentino was very often asked if he was seeing anyone, or if he could even find the time. He was not shy about the fact that he struggled with this particular aspect of his personal life. Finding the time to date, and being so busy with work made a healthy casual encounter with new people to consider dating sadly a rare occurrence. If and when he was ever able to consider going out on a date with someone and it went well, he told them, he would have to turn to male enhancement pills. Many people have issues like these. It is fairly common, and well known that it can happen to anyone and often times through no fault of their own. Still, it is a sensitive topic that not many men can find the courage to discuss. Valentino has no such issues; he has always been the type to take the bad with the good. It is very interesting to see him approach this particular topic in such a way as well, when he is in a position to easily tell people it is none of their business. Truly a man to admire and celebrate, and who has earned everyone’s respect through actions and a strong character.

The main five exclusive golden invitation cards were sent

from the Valentino headquarters for the weekend’s events:

Friday 6 July 7:30pm   The Exhibition inauguration ~ Valentino a Roma: 45 Years of Style Museum of Ara Pacis, via Ripetta Designed by Patrick Kinmonth and Antonio Monfreda, the ancient sacrificial altar Ara Pacis showcased Valentino’s most important creations from the past 45 years.  A giant red glass cube encasing one of his earlier dresses,greeted guests who then entered the exhibition featuring 300 of his designs in red, black and white on mannequins. Valentino had gone through his archives and his clients’ closets!

Friday, 6th July 9:30pm Opening Night Dinner Temple of Venus, in the Imperial Forum via San Gregori

Dating back to 135 A.C. and dedicated to Emperor Hadrian the forum had never been opened to any event. The retrospective exhibition of Valentino’s designs illustrated the timelessness of his designs and featured the best gowns from almost half a century.

Saturday, 7 July

This is the day Valentino asks his women to change their clothes four times, and they could not be happier. We start with the cool casual breakfast/shopping/sightseeing outfit, move into the day- time chic lunch ensemble, change into a late afternoon cocktail dress for the show, and once more redo ourselves head to toe, pouring our bodies into ball gowns for the gala–my idea of a perfect day.

1pm Marina Palma’s Lunch for Valentino at Dal Bolognese Overlooking the Piazza del Popolo

Socialite and long-time Valentino fan Marina Palma took over the fashionable Bolognese restaurant for a tribute lunch before the international guest list set off for the designer’s bravura couture runway show.

5.00 pm: Fashion show for 1000 people ~ presentation of the Fall-Winter 2007/08 Couture Collection Complesso Monumentale S. Spirito in Saxia, Borgo S. Spirito 1

For the first time after 16 years Valentino’s Haute Couture fashion show did not take place in Paris during the HC fashion week but in Rome. He unveil his 2007 Fall collection of 61 outfits in the medieval Santo Spirito in Sassia church near the Vatican. The 15th century Complesso Monumentale Santo Spirito, is a former medieval convent that consists of 2 large halls with frescos and 2 cloisters. This collection showcased the designer’s best tricks: the precise nip of a waisted jacket, the opulence of a dress rustling with jet beads and trimmed with ostrich feathers.

9:30pm Gala Dinner and ball at Galleria Borghese-Via Pinciana

A gala ball in the Galleria Borghese followed the fashion show, with a ballgown-clad passeggiata beneath the Caravaggios, and culminating in a dinner for 1,000 guests. The Shanghai inspired fantasy marquee in the gardens, with palm-tree columns and red, black, and mirrored walls, was an installation by the cinéaste Dante Ferretti.

Sunday 8 July ~  Valentino launched the house’s latest perfume, Rock ‘n Rose Couture and a giant book. In addition to the celebration in Rome, a tribute book written by Vanity Fair writer Matt Tyrnauer will be published in July by Taschen.

Fashion Royalty Hailed its King.

Actresses Elizabeth Hurley and Sienna Miller wore ruffles and feathers to the ball.

Let the fantastic festivities begin!

A three-day, $10-million celebration of “Valentino a Roma: 45 Years of Style,” an exhibit that encapsulates grace and everlasting beauty. We are ready to rock’n'roll with the 1,000 European aristocrats, movie stars, socialites and journal- ists who are descending on The Eternal City hell-bent on living la dolce vita.

..the group I am traveling with–American industrialist David Koch and his gorgeous statuesque wife Julia, Prince Dimitri of Yugoslavia, Charlie and Sara Ayers and Brad Cosimar, the best friend of Valentino global PR maven Carlos Souza–check into the fabulously chic Hotel de Russie, which has terraced gardens inches away from the Spanish Steps and the 18th-century Palazzo Mignanelli, where Valentino’s Louis XIV-style office–and its 26-foot ceilings–is located.

In each guest’s room is a white canvas tote from L.L. Bean embroidered with endless red Valentino logos , and a note personally signed by our host. We get a detailed schedule of events, a book , aviator sunglasses and a gold plastic entrance card with our name, preferred arrival times at each event and the warning, “Sono di ri gore smoking e abi to lungo.” No one can get near a red carpet without this gold card, which is now worth gold. Experts nowadays recommends to use e-cigs or vapes instead of tobacco cigarettes. For more details, click here — united states vape distributor.

Peggy Siegal: My Roman Holiday with Valentino

Valentino a Roma, 45 years of style

A major retrospective exhibition presented the glamorous life and work of Valentino Garavani. It celebrated his career of 45 years, and featured drawings, dresses, photographs, memorabilia and rare archive material. Vestals in scarlet dresses stretched their golden mannequin arms towards the Ara Pacis, or peace altar – a dramatic mise-en-scène. Fresh and spirited, it is viewed in streaming sunlight through the modernist glass box of the architect Richard Meier’s controversial museum.

    A chorus of red-dressed women pay homage to the Ara Pacis,

    an Altar of Peace, built for Rome’s first emperor, Augustus, between 13 – 9 BC.

    It was presented at the spectacular Ara Pacis Museum.

    Fresh and spirited, it is viewed in streaming sunlight through the modernist glass box

    of the architect Richard Meier’s controversial museum.

    The Ara Pacis was built to celebrate Augustus’s triumph return to Rome after an empire-building campaign in Spain and Gaul, and similarly the Valentino exhibition honors Valentino’s return to Rome.

    For the first time in seventeen years, the emperor of style presented his new haute couture collection in the Eterna rather than in Paris. Just as the Ara Pacis – with its elaborately carved relief sculptures – was meant to celebrate the Golden Age and the peace brought to Rome by Augustus, so too the Valentino show is a reminder of the dolce vita years in which Valentino began his career.  Opera designers Patrick Kinmonth and Antonio Monfreda, designed and curated the retrospective who arranged mannequins in tiers or in choir-like groups.

    Patrick Kinmonth, the British opera stage designer, and Roman Antonio Monfreda designed the installation. Hamish Bowles, European editor at large of Vogue, was the archival consultant who curated the 300 dresses. Giancarlo Giammetti, Valentino’s brilliant business partner of 45 years, one- time companion and confidant, oversaw everything. Entering the opening night of the exhibition is as thrilling as lighting the Olympic torch and winning the Oscar for lifetime achievement at the same time.

    We ascend a huge, white marble staircase to be greeted and kissed by Valentino with Giancarlo at his side. At 75, Valentino is very slender, very tan, very coiffed, very charming and very, very excited. As he embraces every guest, he also makes sure the photographer gets the two-shot. We enter a dark tunnel with three tiers of mannequins wearing magnificent clothes and attached to sky-high walls. Next we are in a sun-drenched glass box that ironically illuminates evening dresses, which are also juxtaposed against dark Cyprus trees and a blue sky.

    The symbolic centerpiece is Valentino’s white 1990 Peace dress

    with the word peace embroidered in silver in 14 languages.

    Valentino called every embassy to have them fax the correct spelling of “peace” in their language .

    Red-clad, goddess-like gilded mannequins flank either side of the altar with their arms outstretched like a chorus of angels. We descend a staircase lined in a rainbow of colored gowns. Champagne is passed among the world’s most famous and beautiful women, who are dressed in Valentino they either own or have borrowed. Uma Thurman, Anne Hathaway, Elizabeth Hurley, Elle McPherson, Claudia Schiffer, Clare Danes, Eva Mendes, Sienna Miller, Natalia Vodianova, Cornelia Guest, Anna Wintour, Joan Collins and 80-year-old Gina Lollobrigida are just a few of the impeccably dressed women floating around. It is an overload of beauty. I don’t know where to look first.

    The exhibition also has muslin dummies embroidered with movie stars names on the necks. These display Valentino’s most iconic celebrity dresses–the ones worn by Audrey Hepburn, Sophia Loren, Princess Diana, Julia Roberts, Cate Blanchett and Elizabeth Taylor–and video monitors play mini-movies, Oscar acceptance speeches or just grand entrances.

    Peggy Siegal: My Roman Holiday with Valentino

    Elizabeth Taylor gave Valentino his big break in 1961 by wearing one of his dresses to the Rome premiere of “Spartacus.” “When my press officer asked if she would mind having her picture taken with Mr. Valentino, she said: ‘Yes. Yes. Come, Rudy, but you will have to give me a dress for free,’ ” he says. “When she came for her gown, she chose the most expensive outfit of the collection.”

    Every Valentino dress has its own such story, apparently, not just those selected for the show. And as Kinmonth, Bowles and Monfreda presented the edit of 300 outfits they planned to exhibit, “Valentino started remembering every dress — who’d bought it, who’d worn it, everything,” Kinmonth says. “And I had to say, ‘I’m sorry, I will do my absolute best, but we really can’t start to bring all sorts of things back in.’ ”

    “I guess it was my sister’s wedding dress, when I first knew Valentino” said Lee Radziwill, referring to the girlish gown made for Jacqueline Kennedy’s Greek island marriage to Aristotle Onassis in 1968.

    During the cocktail party for the opening, a guest, pointing to a silver dress edged in feathers, asked Valentino if it wasn’t a famous number once worn by Jennifer Lopez.

    “No, that was Jackie Kennedy’s dress,” he said with a shrug. “We made Jennifer a copy.”

    Farah Dibah, remembering the beige wool Valentino coat with sable collar in which, as wife of the former Shah of Iran, she had fled her country in 1979, said, “It was the most terrible day of my life – but I try to look forward.”

    That coat is in the exhibition among a line-up of celebrity outfits on dressmaker’s dummies, each identified by an embroidered name as “Jennifer Lopez,” “Gwyneth Paltrow” or “Julia Roberts.” while a miniscreen shows virtual images of them picking up or attending an Oscar in a Val gown.

    “I did all these dresses and they are like children for me,” said Valentino, 75,

    looking at the twin groups of 33 red dresses spanning 40 years.

    “I always believed so much in elegance and femininity,” he said.

    “They could all be worn today – and that makes me very proud.”

    The perennially tanned Valentino has a style  that is defined by clean lines, minimal detail, and elegant forms. It is these qualities of his that enabled him to dress movie stars, globe-trotting socialites and European royalty including the late Princess Diana. He designed the wedding gowns of two Onassis women: Jacqueline Kennedy for her marriage to Aristotle Onassis and Athina Onassis.

    All hail Valentino

    A video of the Valentino show at the Ara Pacis museum  - really a slide show.

    Red glass box outside the Ara Pacis Museum.

    Valentinoo’s original iconic 1965 red crepe sheath was encased in a giant red glass cube at the entrance to his retrospective exhibition.

    The new museum was launched in 2006. designed by America’s Richard Meier and partners. The Ara Pacis is an “altar of majestic peace”, an ancient sacrificial altar from Rome 9 BC.  After being kept in a protective shelter for a long time, it was unveiled for the first time in years on 22 September which is the birthday of the Emperor Augustus who was around when the altar was built as a tribute to peace (i.c. victory/ sacrifice). Now there it is in the museum, all large and light and airy and made so by Mr. Meier et al, over looking the Tiber and Emperor Augustus’ mausoleum. It is a stunning but controversial museum and architectural space.

    The temple of venus & valentino

    Three dancers in red – Valentino red – floated like puppets on a string in front of the Colosseum.

    As their shadows flickered over the ancient stones, a giant balloon,

    celebrating Valentino’s 45 fashion years, drifted by and a golden shower of fireworks exploded.

    Acrobats wearing Valentino gowns danced above the ruins,

    as lighting of different colors transformed the Colosseum, symbol of Imperial Rome.

    In the early second century AD, Rome’s most architecturally talented emperor, Hadrian, built a massive temple near the Colosseum and dedicated it to Roma, the divine personification of the city, and to Venus, the goddess of love and beauty.

    The gigantic podium of that temple played gracious host to an off-the-chart party thrown by the emperor of style, Valentino. Forty-five years ago, the young designer made Rome the home of his fashion house. He is celebrated his long relationship with the Eterna with a gala of the type that hasn’t been seen here since the fall of the Roman Empire. In return for the privilege of using the temple as an extravagant party venue, Valentino donated 200,000 euro for the restoration of the structure.

    In preparation for the imperial event, Oscar-winning set designer Dante Ferretti recreated ancient Rome with his own special effects. Rising to the occasion with aplomb, he erected fiberglass Corinthian columns on the temple platform and in an impressive spectacle that would have amazed even the ancient Romans, these were slowly illuminated as the sun set behind the Roman Forum. The stage set made clear the fact that it wasn’t just Valentino receiving homage at this party, however. The designer aptly shared his accolades with Venus, the goddess who brought beauty into the world, for from a giant niche facing the Colosseum, a colossal and nude Venus gazed enviously across the designer-clad crowd of 300 who dined and danced in the cool evening air.

    Just before midnight, Venus and Valentino were further honored with an acrobatic performance staged between the Temple platform and the Colosseum.

    Acrobats in Valentino dresses danced in the air to the strains of Maria Callas

    ~ the Colosseum, illuminated in red, behind them.

    Women dressed in Valentino Red and suspended on invisible cables ascended into the stratosphere to the tune of Ave Maria. Once aloft, spotlights illuminated their flowing gowns and sinuous movements as they performed an ethereal dance while the haunting voice of Maria Callas singing Norma wafted across the eternal landscape.

    As the women in red reentered our atmosphere,

    an astounding display of V-inspired fireworks exploded against the backdrop of the Colosseum.

    {Source and images:}

    The renowned Italian Oscar-winning movie designer Dante Ferretti (The Aviator, Gangs of New York, The Age of Innocence) recreated the original temple’s long-lost columns in fibre glass, a special procedure called anastilosys. Valerio Festi designed a spectacular performance by high-wire ballerinas (costumed in exaggerated versions of the designer’s ball gowns or signature lipstick-red evening dresses), who moved with poetic grace to Maria Callas’s haunting arias, with the Coliseum, bathed in red and mauve light, as a breathtaking backdrop.

    Mr. Ferretti does not normally take on this kind of work, but he was intrigued by the idea of recreating a Hadrian work, the Temple of Venus, whose only public use is by the pope.

    “I thought, O.K., Valentino is a kind of pope,” Mr. Ferretti said. He added, “That’s a joke, of course.”

    Francesco Rutelli, the Italian minister of culture, who was sitting Friday evening with the group that included Mr. Berlusconi and Princess Caroline, said letting Valentino use the temple was “a once in a lifetime” decision that was consistent with the designer’s place in the city, if not Italy’s identity.

    “I think it’s a very, very appropriate marriage,” Mr. Rutelli said. Valentino donated 200,000 euros toward restoration of the Temple. The plexigas structure remained for the summer for tourists to enjoy.

    Behind the Scenes

    As of late June, construction crews were working day and night to complete the exhibition, but by then Giammetti had set his sights on another Roman landmark, the Temple of Venus and Rome, for the opening-night dinner. “There’s a wonderful terrace with an incredible view of the Colosseum,” he says. “The Pope goes there once a year alone, no one else. It was very, very difficult to get.”

    Valentino wanted the dinner to feel as if it were in one of his homes. His personal chef supervised the food, and his favorite florist, Rob Van Helden, was flown over from London to do the flowers. Silk napkins and tablecloths were embroidered to Valentino’s design in India, and 3,400 glasses were ordered in his favorite yellow crystal. Then there’s the china. “Oh, my God, it’s a disaster,” Giammetti groans. “Valentino wanted a special color and no one had it, so we are making 3,400 plates in Italy — believe it or not.”

    Of course, there were also the guests themselves. “We have a huge call-center dealing with all the requests,” Giammetti says. “They need a pedicure. They need a hairdresser. They need to see the hairdresser’s Web site.” These, however, were the least of his concerns. “The huge, huge problem is saying ‘no’ to the people who are calling now to be invited. It is embarrassing and what I hate most, but I have to deal with it 25 times a day.”

    Add to that details like the design of the ushers’ badges and the precise positioning of the red carpet. “Valentino and I are both perfectionists, and with something this huge, perfection isn’t possible,” Giammetti says, punctuating his sentence with a sigh. “The only thing I am praying for is the weather. If it rains, it will be a big, big problem. And, my God, I don’t want bad news.”


    Valentino designed a bigger collection than usual — 61 outfits, rather than the standard 40. An audience of 1,000 viewed them amid the 12th-century splendor of the Santo Spirito in Sassia basilica church.
    “You know, for my Roman comeback, I have done the essence of my couture,” Valentino says.
    “Very beautiful cocktail dresses. Very glamorous evening gowns. Very small red dresses.
    Glamorous. Glamorous. Glamorous.”

    Valentino’s Haute Couture Fall 2007

    Valentino presented a winter couture wardrobe of 61 outfits to a star-studded audience gathered in a former medieval convent near the Vatican. The collection referenced many of the leitmotifs revealed in the retrospective at Ara Pacis and was a tour de force of the flawless and unmatchable techniques of Valentino’s brilliant workrooms.

    The weekend before Valentino was in Paris to rehearse the show and fit the models. The clothes were driven to Paris by trucks, which then took them back to Rome. “We need Valentino here in Rome, and I cannot be in Paris,” Giammetti wails. “This is the first time I won’t see the fittings and the rehearsal. Imagine what a disaster. . . . ”

    It was his first show in 17 years in the city where he began his climb to the top of the fashion ladder.

    For the parade, Dante Ferretti, Federico Fellini’s and Marty Scorsese’s Oscar-winning set designer, lined the endless walls with a vast photo retrospective of Valentino’s black- and-white advertising and editorial images. It was held in two long, adjoining halls called Sala Incisa and Sala Baglivi of the restructured 16th century Santo Spirito. Down the entire length of both walls, hanging three deep, were black-and-white photographs of Valentino’s fashion. The runway was done in a glossy, black-and-white tile pattern.

    The suits that opened the show were pure Valentino, with details like chinchilla pockets or a black wool jacket with a bouillonne of black tulle at the waist.


    alentino’s trademarks of impeccably tailored skirt suits and elegant red carpet gowns in lipstick red or snow white were on show. Femininity, signified by bows and lace, is a constant.

    This collection has some of my favourite Valentino pieces ever!

    You may recognise some of them from a previous post.

    The music segued from Mahler’s Fifth to Maria Callas’s

    hauntingly beautiful rendition of Puccini’s ‘O Mio Babbino Caro’

    as Valentino took his bow.

    An impressive roster of fellow designers who had gathered to pay homage ~ Karl Lagerfeld, Giorgio Armani, Donatella Versace,Tom Ford, Diane von Furstenberg, Carolina Herrera, Zac Posen, Manolo Blahnik, and Philip Treacy among them—led the standing ovation. When Valentino came down the runway, he stopped in front of the other designers and did a little bow. When he came back up the runway, the habitually unflappable designer had tears in his eyes and embraced Giancarlo Giammetti on the runway.

    ‘It was the most fantastic collection,’ said Princess Firyal of Jordan backstage. ‘I’m about to cry, too.”

    And the signature lipstick red dresses floated by vibrantly.

    Peggy Siegal: My Roman Holiday with Valentino

    Once again, those silver Mercedes bring us to another spectacular venue for the couture show: a restructured 16th-century medieval building, the Complesso Monumentale of Santo Spirito in Sassia, originally used as a convent and a stone’s throw from the Vatican.

    We need to show that gold ID card to get in . . . society to the white gallery, press to the black gallery. One thousand famous people, still kissing each other, eventually settle into three rows that are a mile long.

    The clothes Valentino sends down the runway are as explosive as the fireworks from the night before. The opulent and vibrant evening gowns are bedecked with enough jewels, feathers, beads and bows to wow even the most blasè red-carpet paparazzi.

    Equally impressive is the line-up of Valentino’s col- leagues in the front row, which indicates his enormous popularity. Sitting next to each other are Diane von Furstenberg, Zac Posen, Manolo Blahnik, Tom Ford, Donatella Versace, Giorgio Armani, Philip Treacy, Car- olina Herrera and Karl Lagerfeld, whom Valentino has known for 52 years.

    At the finale, everyone jumps to their feet and wildly cheers as Valentino strides down the runway behind his models.He is wearing an immaculate white fitted suit and has his arms in the air like a conquering gladiator.

    He is crying.

    Piece de Resistance, La Grande Finale

    ~ Gala Black-tie Ball at Galleria Borghese

    “I love you, all of you very much

    an emotional Valentino said in his champagne toast during Saturday night’s opulent bash,

    a lavish party in the grounds of historic Villa Borghese,

    which culminated two days of celebrations marking the designer’s 45 years in fashion.

    Red was the hue for the celebrity events ~ especially for the Saturday night red carpet parade through the soft dusk of the Borghese gardens. Scarlet dresses shone out like beacons on Claudia Schiffer, with Valentino’s signature bows pert over her bare navel; or on the Texan supersocialite Lynn Wyatt in a 25-year-old vintage gown.

    The boldest colors were eclipsed by the garnet glow of Caravaggio’s paintings on the palazzo walls. But once inside the vast chinoiserie dinner tent, Sienna Miller wowed the crowd with scarlet lips to match her dress. She sat on Mario Testino’s lap, while the uber-photographer flashed away. Click! Mick Jagger; Click! Eva Mendez; Maggie Cheung; Tom Ford; Rupert Everett. And, this being a “very Valentino” event, the royals: Princess Caroline of Hanover (in her favorite Chanel) and Marie Chantal of Greece, gorgeous as a crimped-hair 1930s vamp.

    The Chinese Pavilion tent, put up at the cost hundreds of thousands of euros just for the party.

    The evening’s Shanghai inspired setting, again designed by cinéaste Dante Ferretti, evoked the Orient with lacquered red and black walls with gilded decorations framing the 78 tables adorned with centerpieces made up of roses, hydrangeas and orchids. Waiters in guru jackets served the fish based menu on 3,500 delicate green porcelain plates, while an orchestra played high society music from the 1940′s. Pop star Annie Lennox offered the highlight with a surprise performance. Disco dancing with British DJ Laurence Steinman followed.

    Leave it to Valentino to gather in the same room Mick Jagger — in town for a Rolling Stones concert — Princess Caroline of Monaco and family on their way to a Mediterranean cruise on their private yacht and the widow of the late Shah of Iran, former Persian Empress Farah Pahlavi.

    Socialites included Daphne Guinness in a black-and-white lace flamenco dress with silver platforms and ostrich-feather eyelashes and Lita Livanos, Sheetal Mafatlal, and Rena Sindi, Nada Kirdar, Lynn Wyatt (in the red taffeta ruffled dress Valentino made for her 25 years ago that she found in her attic), Allison Sarofim in a coral-beaded 1960s Valentino, Eugenia Niarchos and Phivos Istavrioglou, famous heir and socialite from Greece.

    Movie stars flocked too: Uma Thurman, Anne Hathaway, Sarah Jessica Parker in black draperies, Sienna Miller in an ostrich-feather crinoline gown, Jennifer Hudson in a gown with a train, Eva Mendes in a black version of the designer’s iconic 1965 red crepe sheath (the original was encased in a giant red Perspex box at the entrance to his retrospective).

    Schiffer flaunted a gown in Valentino’s trademark flaming red. Hathaway was in a black Valentino with white embroidery, while Italian actress Gina Lollobrigida, a longtime friend, wore a vintage Valentino red gown.

    And the list goes on and on….

    Elton John, Karl Lagerfeld, Marie-Chantal, Crown Princess of Greece, Princess Rosario of Bulgaria, Princess Firyal of Jordan as well as Mayor Walter Veltroni.  Supermodels and actresses from the past four decades arrived to pay homage to their dressmaker – Claudia Schiffer next to Marisa Berenson, Sienna Miller alongside Joan Collins, Elle MacPherson - as well as contessas, duchesses and princesses.

    The lobby of the Hotel de Russie is clogged with swans in Valentino ball gowns

    – Julia Koch in white, Sara Ayres in red, Marie Chantal in pink, Anne Hathaway in black, Jennifer Hudson in brown and Sarah Jessica Parker in gold.

    Senator and jet-set racounteur Mario D’Urso spontaneously drives me over to the Villa Borghese and gives me a tour of the Galleria Borghese museum with its Caravaggios, Canovas and Bernini sculptures. He introduces me to every noble Italian in Italian–which is a little scary. We stroll through the gardens into a vast, Chinese- themed, tented dining room designed, and built especially for the evening–complete with tufted ceilings, palm trees and lacquered red and black walls, recreating the exotic glamour of Shanghai in the 1920s.

    During dinner, snippets of the cinema veritè documentary on Valentino are shown. The documentary was produced and directed by Matt Tyrnauer, a veteran VF journalist. He has been globetrotting for two years, filming Valentino’s life of “art, beauty and love” on the designer’s 152-foot yacht and in his five homes: Rome, London, Gstaad, Paris and Manhattan. Tyrnauer describes his film as a celebration of the “last emperor of haute couture.”

    Valentino then makes a very short speech to everyone who has shared his unforgettable weekend.

    Chanteuse Annie Lennox, wearing her first Valentino,

    sings Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)

    and Mick Jagger, fresh from his sold-out performance the night before (attended by Lance Armstrong and Tory Burch) jumps up on the dance floor . . . along with Uma Thurman, Rupert Everett and the girls in red: Claudia Schiffer, Sienna Miller, Natasha Richardson and Lynn Wyatt in a 25-year- old gown. Claire Danes snakes her tight body around Hugh Dancy’s tight body as they dirty dance the night away.

    Also celebrating were Valentino’s American boyfriends since 1982, Bruce Hoeksema; Valentino’s and Giancarlo’s god-children, Sean Souza and his brother Anthony along with their dad Carlos and mom Charlene de Ganay; Nati Abascal and her son Duque de Feria; Lita,George and Stavros Livanos; Lord Charles Spencer Churchill; Carolina Herrera, Jr.; Prince and Princess Pierre d’Arenberg; Count and Countess Ravenal; HRH Princess Firyal of Jordan; Eugenia Silva and Alejandro Santo Domingo; Eugenia and John Radziwill; Baronne Silvie de Waldner; Stephen and Christine Schwarzman; Giles Bensimon and Diana Widmaier Picasso; Margherita Missoni; Charlotte and Andrea Casiraghi (Princess Caroline’s gorgeous children); Glenda Bailey; Pamela Fiori; Patrick McCarthy; Andrè Leon Talley; Fabiola Beracasa; Jennifer Creel; Rachel Zoe; Delphine Arnault Gancia; Taki Theodoracopulos; Theodora Richards; Georgia and Elizabeth Jagger.

    In the end, Valentino’s only disappointment is missing Gwyneth Pal- trow, who smashed her knee tripping over furniture and is on crutches in her East Hampton home, and Meryl Streep, who sent her husband Don Gummer and their daughter Mamie. Valentino had a cameo in The Devil Wears Prada and became very friendly with Meryl, but she is stuck in Stockholm preparing to film the hit Abba musical, Mamma Mia!

    His lucky friends will reminisce for years to come about this extraordinary event.

    Rome wasn’t built in a day, but Valentino transformed it in three.

    Bravo Valentino!

    Peggy Siegal: My Roman Holiday with Valentino

    {Images  & Sources: Eternally Cool; Vogue Australia; NY Times & Writers – Cathy Horyn, Darius Kadivar, Jess Cartner-Morley, Suzy Menkes, Alice Rawsthorn}


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    3 Responses to “Valentino’s Swansong in Rome”

    1. [...] Valentino’s Swansong in Rome has more details on the three day extravaganza. [...]

    2. lolitacallas says:

      All RISE! *rising and bowing to Valentino*

    3. Looking to rent the red dress on the right in picture #15 for a celebrity artist in Hollywood. Does anyone know of a rental house that would have this spectacular piece.. Thank you for an immediate response.


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