I was just reading about Valentino's 45th anniversary/75th birthday in Rome* (unfortunately, I couldn't make it because I, um, was busy...with...um...).
Anyhoo, in honor of the man and his legendary career, I share with you my very own Valentino story. It would have been published in Glamour in 1998, but they shortened my brilliant, enchanting 1,500 word essay to basically the following:
"I met Oprah. She was nice."
So I will bore you with said story here.
It was my sister's birthday, and as her present, her husband at the time bought her two very fabulous tables at a charity fashion show for Valentino. Oprah was the mistress of ceremonies; Donald T. was at the table next to us (his wife at the time, Marla Maples, was one of the models). Elizabeth Vargas was at my table along with a bunch of my sister's other friends/New York contemporaries.
I, still in full-on hippie era, was shipped the entire ensemble I was to wear to the function: (completely non-flattering) Chanel suit and shoes, proper jewelry, I think even some mascara was sent my way. It's not like I would have shown up in my Birks, but what with my whopping editorial pittance, I couldn't afford much better than the AT sale rack.
Models are models for a reason. Celebs and wives of should stay off the runway without some serious training. But I digress.
Our group was invited to the opening of the Valentino boutique afterward, and it was just beautiful. The red-carpeted entrance featured two HUGE V's made from red roses; I was handed a biscotti and iced tea with a dainty mint sprig by a gorgeous tuxedoed butler at the door. I was feeling quite cool (which is ALWAYS foreshadowing. Someday I will learn...).
So we met Oprah. She was nice.
And then I was feeling REALLY, REALLY cool.
So I'm strutting around the store, thinking I'm all fabulous, sipping my iced tea with mint, already bragging in my head to my friends about how cool I am, when I found myself in the men's department: a rectangular room that dead ended in the back.
And out of nowhere, Valentino himself just *POOF* appears. I didn't see him come through a door, he was just there, coming toward me. Just he and I (him and I?).
He walked closer and looked me directly in the eye. He's about my height, as tan in person as on film.
I lowered my glass and prepared to speak, knowing that since I was now incredibly cool, something just uber-fabulous was destined to fall from my lips. It would be brilliantly witty. He would find me charming. Yacht invitations would invariably ensue.
And then, just as he got close up and we were face to face, his expression changed to one of utter contempt. He looked away and moved on in disgust.
And then I felt the mint sprig, which, to that point, had happily rested atop my glass of tea, but apparently decided to take up a new place of residence.
Under my top lip, wrapped around it, with the very tip inserted into my nose.
Cool no more. The end.
Happy belated birthday and anniversary, Mr. Garavani.
*OP's P.R. people: I salute you.