Thursday, March 27, 2008

Olivia Chantecaille Gives ASW the Scoop on Valentino's 45th Bash

Valentino Garavani toasted his 45 glamorous years in fashion with a lavish 3-day fete in Rome. Everyone from Iranian Empress Farah Diba Pahlavi to Mick Jagger turned up to toast the designer’s work. ASW member and Valentino muse Olivia Chantecaille kept a diary on her Blackberry of the sumptuous celebrations

I just knew that the Valentino dream weekend had truly begun when I flew into Rome sitting next to Rupert Everett and Joan Collins. The ' friendly skies' had just become the 'glamorous skies'! When we landed, there was sunshine and a perfect temperature of 85 degrees. Somehow, Valentino had managed to conjure up ideal weather while the rest of Europe suffered through clouds and unseasonably cold days. Bravo!

Valentino a Roma: 45 Years of Style Exhibition Opening at Ara Pacis Museum
I arrived at my hotel to find a welcome note from Valentino himself and some very thoughtful goodies. He definitely knows how to make a woman feel special and this was only the beginning of a weekend filled with wonderful surprises.

I slipped into a gray satin couture cocktail dress with a beaded halter neck and headed off to the Ara Pacis Museum to view the most spectacular exhibit celebrating 45 years of Valentino’s creations. The man himself was at the door to greet me and other guests. I then ran into my darling friend, Carlos Souza, Valentino’s PR chief and my friend and Vanity Fair fashion editor, Alexis Bryan, who introduced me to the very dashing Tom Ford. I was very happy to find that my New York friends had all arrived at the same time - we are clearly on the same party clock! The group included Alison Sarofim, Carlos Mota, and ASW members Andrew Saffir, Daniel Benedict, Lauren Davis and the Santo Domingo boys.

The exhibit was the most exquisite fashion display ever. Each room was devoted to a color. The museum’s clean and modern look created the ideal backdrop for the 300 intricate Valentino creations. Guests at the opening included Vogue editor Anna Wintour, Claire Danes, Elle Macpherson, Patrick Demarchelier, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Eva Mendes.

Temple of Venus dinner
After the opening, we headed en masse to the Temple of Venus, which overlooks the Colosseum. It was lit in Valentino red. Dinner was a spectacular buffet of fresh mozzarella di buffalo and the lightest pasta that virtually melted in your mouth. Low tables and cushioned seats were strewn amongst the ancient ruins. I sat with Alexis Bryan, Anna Wintour, Shelby Bryan and Patrick Demarchelier. Everyone was elated by the surreal perfection of the evening.

A sudden spray of fireworks turned our attention to the sky where a glowing crescent moon was poised above the Colosseum. We were treated to a magnificent display as color after color of lights burst into the night. There was a momentary pause and a dancer, suspended on strings, twirled across the sky. She was joined by more dancers in red gowns, which created impressive silhouettes against the changing colors of the Colosseum. A giant balloon decorated in Valentino’s name scattered these fairies and floated into the sky. The spectacle was completed with a fireworks finale that was surely worthy of the gods.

The Winter Couture show
The next day, we were invited to attend the Valentino winter couture show at 5 p.m. Set in a stunning gallery, the walls were lined with the most tremendous photos of Valentino’s gowns. One of my favorites was an image of Linda Evangelista in a strapless dress with a bustier of white roses. Meanwhile, all of Valentino’s ladies from Hollywood to Dubai eagerly awaited the show, fanning themselves with Valentino fans to combat the heat. Uma Thurman strode in wearing a long sleeved white sequin dress that flattered in every way imaginable.

The show was a dream worth waiting for. Every look was utterly exquisite. At the end, the crowd jumped to its feet and Valentino came out to thunderous applause. Before he had made it to the end of the runway, his business partner, Giancarlo Giametti embraced him warmly. Both men had tears in their eyes. Everyone ambled out into the sunlight slightly drunk with the emotions that reverberated in the hall.

Villa Borghese gala
I wore a Valentino gown in rose for the evening’s gala at the Villa Borghese. Inside the palazzo, guests ambled around milk white statues - my favorite was Bernini’s Apollo and Daphne - in galleries of marble and painted walls and ceilings that evoked thoughts of the Sistine chapel.

Then, we made our way on to the red carpet and joined guests such as Mick Jagger and L'Wren Scott, Rachel Zoe and Matthew Broderick on a terrace where Valentino greeted us with open arms for the grand finale of the weekend’s festivities. Each woman looked more glamorous than the next in her Valentino gown, sipping champagne and chatting with the designer.

A set of big doors then opened to a dining room painted with the rich colors of Shanghai red and gold bamboo. Guests poured into the hall for the elaborate banquet. After the dinner, Giancarlo Giametti sauntered on to the stage to say a few touching words about the man of honor and introduced a short film of Valentino hard at work creating his magic.

After the film ended, the curtain dropped for a beat and then lifted again to reveal Annie Lennox seated at the piano in a shimmering black Valentino dress. She serenaded the crowd with her powerful voice, which almost blew the roof off the palazzo. Afterwards, the DJ took over and got everyone dancing non-stop for five hours, which could only happen in Rome. It was a definitely a night to remember!

Photo Credits:© Billy Farrrel/

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