We approached Valentino, who looked like he had already had a full week (and Fashion Week hadn’t even begun). We inquired about the rumors circulating that a Broadway show based on his life is in the works. “They speak about it, yes, but I don’t know what’s going on,” he said with a signature arched eyebrow. And which shows he was planning on attending? “I’m going to see Spiderwoman,” he said, apparently misunderstanding both our question and the superhero’s gender. Asked which designers he was most looking forward to seeing, Mr. Valentino gave a shrug. “Many of them,” he said with a wry smile. “Darling, I don’t want to answer anymore,” he said, apparently wearied by the numerous interviews he had given and photos for which he had posed over the past hour.
Anna Wintour doffed her ever-present dark glasses and amiably greeted guests eye to eye.
Daphne Guinness was seated just one table over, her black and white locks arranged in a beehive that managed to invoke, in the perfect marriage, Cruella de Vil and Amy Winehouse. Despite the imposing tresses, Ms. Guinness was perfectly charming. Wearing a pair of heeless, platform Mary Janes, we asked if her feet were hurting her. “Stilettos give me blisters. I wouldn’t wear shoes if they weren’t comfortable,” she said. “These are really comfortable because you can go down and up, you have the reverse stretch,” she explained, deftly stretching her calves in the six-inch shoes. Asked about Fashion Week, Ms. Guinness gave an honest, if surprising answer. “I don’t really know much about Fashion Week, except for the fact that I know nothing about it,” she told The Observer. “It used to be full of friends and stuff, especially Alexander’s shows,” mentioning her late friend Alexander McQueen. “But it’s become very kind of full of … I don’t know, celebrities and all that,” she explained. Perhaps not a fan of this year’s democratized program, Ms. Guinness said she planned to attend only the shows of close friends this year.
Guests were finally seated and treated to a three-course meal, although in true fashion-world form there were a great many untouched desserts. Brief speeches were given by people involved in the Couture Council and Fashion Institute of Technology, and Ms. Wintour introduced Valentino, who received not one but two standing ovations. He expressed his gratitude for the award through his thick Italian accent. “This is a very important award … I am very flattered and grateful,” the designer said in his acceptance speech.
Shortly after, guests readied their umbrellas as they walked down the grand marble staircase and out into the wet summer afternoon.