For the first time in its 52-year history, the Italian house of Valentino showed a couture collection in the U.S., drawing a crowd that included some of fashion and Hollywood's best known faces to the Whitney museum on a snowy Wednesday evening for a gallery exhibit and 47-look runway show. The collection was a kind of capsule to celebrate the opening of Valentino's flagship store at 693 Fifth Avenue; designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli will show Valentino's main couture collection in Paris late next month.
The clothes, needless to say, were lovely: all ivory, white and pale gold, most with clean, long lines; others (particularly the dresses and gowns) were more elaborate with their panels of sheer organdy, braided tulle, lace and pleated muslin. For day, there were double-breasted coats in neat A-line shapes, reminiscent of those Gucci showed for fall, and high-waisted A-line minis similar to those shown by Nicolas Ghesquiere at Louis Vuitton. The most Instagrammed pieces were, of course, the gowns. Highlights inlcuded a simple checkered silk gown with a deep V neck and spaghetti straps (look 36), a dramatic columnar dress with a cape (look 43), and an intricately embroidered and pleated dress with a tall stiff collar (look 46) that looks like something Queen Elizabeth might have worn, were she alive today.
Impressive though the clothes were, it was the crowd Valentino had assembled that got people talking. Drawing in so many A-listers was no small feat, given that Valentino was competing with Dior, which showed its pre-fall collection in Tokyo hours later. There were the entertainment celebrities: Katie Holmes (seated in the place of honor between Mr. Valentino and Giancarlo Giammetti), Ben Stiller, Sofia Coppola, Olivia Munn, James Marsden, Emma Roberts, Jamie King, Padma Lakshmi and Haley Bennett and of course the storied socialites/businesswomen: Lauren Santo Domingo, Ivanka Trump, Genevieve Jones, Nicky Hilton and all three Traina sisters. But what seemed most impressive was that so many luminaries in the fashion industry were there -- not only editors, but also a bevy of well-recognized designers: Calvin Klein, Tommy and Dee Hilfiger, Prabal Gurung, Oscar de la Renta's Peter Copping, Emilio Pucci's Peter Dundas, Brian Atwood and Misha Nonoo. It was a night for New York's fashion industry to remember.
See the full collection below: