“It was my idea, many, many, many months ago,” Parker told VF Daily at the gala at Lincoln Center. “And I think of it as the launch for what will hopefully be our annual fall gala. Next year it will be three American designers that are part of New York Fashion Week,” she added, declining to name them.
She said that Valentino immediately agreed to design the costumes, and that he and partner Giancarlo Giammetti made the process easy. “They’ve been flying here for the last four months, sitting at our atelier, and building these costumes by hand,” she said, adding that the designer is pleased with the results. “And that’s been, in many ways, the most gratifying part of the whole experience, to show him what American seamstresses can do.” Vanity Fair photographed this process for its October issue.
Valentino says it didn’t take much convincing. “I was very happy, because I know [ballet master] Peter Martins for a long time, and maybe I was waiting that one day he would ask me,” he said. The legendary designer was impressed with the ballet’s costume staff. “They knew that I was somebody demanding a lot, and they followed me very, very well.” And then, of course, there’s the fact that the fall gala was in his honor. “I am very, very happy because the evening became almost just for Valentino,” he told VF Daily, modestly.
A short film showing Valentino working on the costumes, fussing over the ballerinas, pulling and tucking, issuing commandments about length and cleavage, and telling Peter Martins—who said that in creating a ballet, the music comes first, then choreography, and costumes last—that he was doing it “upside down” was a big hit.
“Gosh, isn’t he funny?” asked Daphne Guinness at dinner. She has known Valentino since she was 15 years old. “He really is a classic. He should have his own show. He’s just so amusing to watch.” (Guinness’s, uh, unusual neckpiece was by jeweler Shaun Leane, with whom she designed a diamond-encrusted glove. “I didn’t know what to wear, so I just put this on,” she told us.)
Lynn Wyatt has experienced Valentino’s attention to detail. “Oh, he loves to fuss over the dress!” she said. “He’s such a perfectionist, and when he gets into it, you know, he just blocks out everything.”
Valentino has also primped Anne Hathaway’s garments on occasion. “But never in private. Usually in public, on a red carpet,” the actress said, laughing.
While we were scarfing down the dinner of seared salmon and lobster, Valentino made his way around the vast room; he stopped at our table to greet ballerina Tiler Peck, who had worn one of his costumes and was featured in the aforementioned short film.
Shortly before 11 p.m., champagne glasses were filled, and we were told to take our seats for a surprise. The female New York City Ballet dancers, all wearing Valentino dresses, most in red, some in black, made their way to the dance floor for a runway show. They were escorted by the formally dressed male dancers, and the show was completely choreographed. This was one graceful bunch of models. “I’m more nervous about this than I was about the performance,” we overheard ballet dancer Robert Fairchild mutter.
After the final walkthrough, the dancer-models all began to dance, kicking off the post-dinner festivities. The dance floor quickly filled; billionaires Leonard Lauder and David Koch were boogying with the best of them.
As we left, Valentino was still dancing with our tablemate ballerina.
by Bennett Marcus
September 21 2012