On Wednesday, a veritable horde of some of the best dressed gals (and guys) in town (from all over the globe), converged on the David Koch Theatre at Lincoln Center, to pay homage to the legendary fashion designer Valentino. This year’s illustrious recipient of the Couture Council of FIT’s Artistry of Fashion Award, was selected by the Couture Council Advisory Committee, an independent group consisting of curators, editors, and retailers. Members include Pamela Golbin, curator of the Musée de la Mode; Akiko Fukai, director and chief curator of the Kyoto Costume Institute; Caroline Milbank, independent curator and author; Glenda Bailey, editor-in-chief of Harpers Bazaar; Hamish Bowles, European editor-at-large of Vogue; Ken Downing, fashion director of Neiman Marcus; Linda Fargo, senior vice president of Bergdorf Goodman; Nicole Fishcelis, vice president and fashion director at Macy’s; and many distinguished others. Dr. Steele serves as chair.
Once again, this wildly popular, highly anticipated, and well attended award ceremony and luncheon which benefits the Museum at FIT, jump started New York Fashion Week in ‘FIT’tingly high style. Last year’s luncheon, which honored Karl Lagerfeld, was the first Couture Council Luncheon held at Lincoln Center, was attended by over 500 guests, and raised over $600,000. This year, they have outdone themselves, surpassing that amount, in both the number of guests and money raised.
(The Couture Council, was created in 2004. Past recipients of The Couture Council Artistry of Fashion Award are Dries Van Noten in 2009, Isabel Toledo in 2008, Alber Elbaz in 2007, and Ralph Rucci in 2006. In 2008, Giorgio Armani also received a special award for Global Fashion Leadership).
Valentino Garavani’s designs are the essence of chic. In fact, his loyal clientele would probably argue that if you look up the word ‘chic’ in the dictionary, there will be a picture of Valentino beside it. He is known for many things, including a timeless, classic, feminine elegance – the complete antithesis of a ‘trends ju jour’ way of thinking. And, of course, the color red.
While he may not have invented the hue, many believe he has perfected it. The color has long been a signature which runs throughout his collections. Indeed, it was very fitting, if not hardly surprising, that many of the guests (who were clad in Valentino, natch), were bedecked in red. So much so, that the David Koch Theatre almost resembled a casting call for the movie ‘Reds’. The effect on this rather gloomy, rainy day, was pretty fabulous. FYI on that same day, taking full advantage of the moment, 1stdibs.com, a sponsor of the luncheon, launched a sale of vintage Valentino Haute Couture. The collection, presented by Rare Vintage owner Juliana Cairone, features about 30 iconic pieces from 1960 to 1980, and items from a home collection Valentino designed in the Seventies.
Among the Luncheon Chairs were Ann Bass, Daphne Guinness, Charlotte Moss, and Diane von Furstenerg; Honorary Luncheon Chairs included Marisa Berenson, Gisele Bündchen. Naomi Campbell, Claire Danes, Dr. Joyce F. Brown, Mica Ertegün, HRH Princess Firyal of Jordan, Susan Gutfreund, Anne Hathaway, Iman, Deborra-lee Jackman, Gwyneth Paltrow, André Leon Talley, Barbara Walters, and Natalia Vodianov.
A-list celebrities, fashion industry guests, and social figures who were in attendance: Shirin and Frederic Fekkai, Martha Stewart, Ivanka Trump, Paula Zahn, Dennis Basso, Hamish Bowles, Glenda Bailey, Robin R. Burns, Amy Fine Collins, Renaud Dutreil (Chairman of LVMH Inc.), Tiffany Dubin, Carolina Herrera, Dawn Mello, Helen O’Hagan, Josie Notori, Lisa Perry, Nadja Swarovski, Andre Leon Talley, Adrienne Vittadini, Anna Wintour, Fabiola Beracasa, Matilda Cuomo, Christina Davis, Annette de la Renta, Patricia Duff, Mica Ertegun, Pamela Fiori, Hilary Geary Ross, Agnes Gund, Susan Gutfreund, Michelle Harper, Yaz Hernandez, Evelyn Lauder, Alexandra Lebenthal, Francine Lefrak, Karen Lefrak, Ambassador John Loeb, Carol Mack, Charlotte Moss, Dayssi Olarte de Kanavos, Laura and John Pomerantz, Denise Rich, Elizabeth Rohatyn, Beth Rudin DeWoody, Daisy Soros, Alfred & Judith Taubman, Jamie Tisch, Lizzie Tisch.
Before a delicious Tuscan inspired meal – arugula topped with figs and prosciutto, followed by a main course of breast of chicken with apricots and pistachios accompanied by grilled asparagus oreccchiette pasta with sun-dried tomatoes and olives served in a basil sauce, finished off with lemon sorbet with raspberries, Liz Peek made her opening remarks. Saying proudly “this is our biggest luncheon ever!”, observing that Valentino has “contributed so much beauty to our world”, citing his “exquisite fabrics, his elegance”, and she decreed ,”He’s the best that fashion could deliver”.
Dr. Joyce Brown took to the podium and called the man of the hour “The undisputed maestro of fashion design; he has remained true to his singular vision throughout his career”. Next up was Charlotte Moss who hailed the day as “A day to honor beauty”.
“With skill and generosity, Valentino has spent a lifetime creating beauty.” She told the assembled guests that their goodie bags would include a “Valentino red’ tote from One King’s Lane, and a copy of “The Last Emperor” on DVD. She selected her favorite moment from the movie, which she feels sums up Valentino when he utters: “Beauty. I can’t help it. I can’t help it. It’s not my fault”.
Then came Simon Doonan who hailed Valentino as the “Undisputed King of Fabulosity”, and the “King of Italian Couture”. He then waxed poetic about the “brilliance of Valentino: the generosity, the magnitude. He’s the whole package!”
Anna Wintour, who presented Valentino with his Award, referred to him as “eternally charismatic”, “one of the world’s best couturiers” and observed that he “designs for the life he leads” (which is truly ‘La Dolce Vita’, and so much so, that Gianni Agnelli once remarked, “even I don’t live as well as Valentino”). She also noted that his “greatest acts go unseen” referring to his fight against HIV & Aids, his senior citizen and animal humanitarian efforts. FYI, it’s a good thing her good friend Roger Federer was not playing at the U.S. Open at the same time as this event, because Anna would have probably had to miss the luncheon, knowning how much she loves sitting courtside and cheering RF on.
When Valentino took to the podium to receive his Artistry in Fashion Award, he thanked the assembled crowd and said, “This is an important award. Artistry is the most important part of design for me.”