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Couture Council 2011
Artistry in Fashion
Award Luncheon
Honoring Valentino
Wednesday September 7, 2011
David H. Koch Theater
Lincoln Center

Written by Wendy R. Williams

Photographed by:
Nick Hunt of Patrick McMullen

Opposite Photo:

The Couture Council of The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology opened Spring/Summer 2012 Fashion Week when they honored Valentino with their 2011 Couture Council Award for Artistry of Fashion on Wednesday September 7, 2011 at the David H. Koch Theater, Lincoln Center, New York City. The event was attended by almost 700 guests and raised $700,000 to support the Museum at FIT.

Valentino and Diane Von Furstenberg

This was the second year that the luncheon was held at New York's Lincoln Center. The 2010 luncheon honored Karl Lagerfeld and was the first celebration to be held at Lincoln Center, the then new home for New York's Mercedes Benz Fashion Week. Past Council awardees were Dries Van Noten (2009), Isabel Toledo (2008), Alber Ebaz (2007) and Ralph Rucci (2006).

The Board of Directors of the Couture Council include Chair Liz Peek and Vice Chair Yaz Hernandez. Luncheon Chairs were Anne H. Bass, Charlotte Moss, Diane von Furstenberg, and Daphne Guinness. Guinness's personal couture collection (with many masterpieces by Valentino) will be exhibited at The Museum at Fit in September 2011.

Simon Doonan

During the luncheon, Valentino admirers and The Museum at FIT supporters took to the stage to honor him. First the Founder and Chairman of the Couture Council, Liz Peek, welcomed the luncheon guests. She praised Valentino's exquisite work and then introduced Dr. Joyce Brown, the head of FIT. Luncheon Chair and Couture Council Board Member, Charlotte Moss thanked the other co-chairs Anna Bass, Daphne Guinness, and Diane von Furstenberg and the sponsor's of the event. And then after the luncheon was served, master of wit Simon Doonan delighted the crowd with tales of Valentino's "Fabulosity."

Here are some quotes from the press release from Jonathan Marder + Associates:

Anna Wintour

Anna Wintour spoke with unusual emotion about her long-time friend, “Valentino came from a small town in North Italy, who went to Rome with a dream, and turned that dream into an empire. He designs a life he leads, and leads a life that lives up to his clothes. As Simon said he’s kept the brief shining moment of Bellini’s La Dolce Vita burning strong with every palazzo, yacht and private jet at his disposal. Even Gianni Agnelli, no stranger himself to the good life once marveled “No one lives as well as Valentino. Even I don’t live as well as Valentino.” And who else but Valentino has a sense of life that is so joyous and optimistic even in troubled times. For instance when Rome was in the grip of the 70’s, the city’s grandest families were turning their furs inside out, taking off their jewelry, and driving old Fiats instead of chauffeured Maseratis to make themselves disappear into the city. Valentino’s sole concession to the times was super practical-- he ordered a bulletproof Mercedes in Valentino Red…But for all that extravagance in Valentino’s life that we see publicly, his greatest acts tend to go unseen…. He and Giancarlo have long been involved in the fight against HIV and AIDS. In 1990, they established L.I.F.E a charity dedicated to helping children in Italy and here in America stricken by this disease. Not to mention his other causes devoted to animals and senior citizens.” Anna Wintour presented the award to Valentino and the luncheon guest stood as he took the stage to accept the award (which was a large silver spool of thread).

Valentino thanked Anna and reminisced about his fashion career in the US, “For almost 50 years, I have had the joy to dress American women… but also the privilege to be inspired by you. American women are the first to accept new trends. In fact your country is always the first to discover new talents and give them the possibility to grow…I remember Jackie Kennedy coming to my suite at The Plaza and choosing her wardrobe only in black and white after President Kennedy died.” As Valentino left the stage, Daphne Guinness and Diane von Furstenberg who were both at Valentino’s table and co-chairs of the luncheon, were the first guests to stand and applaud.

In a final tribute to the luncheon’s honoree, Liz Peek read a touching letter from last year’s honoree Karl Lagerfeld to his friend Valentino. The letter read as follows:

I think there is nobody in the audience who knows Valentino for so many years as I do. We met when we were young in Paris. He then worked at Jean Dessés and I was an assistant at Pierre Balmain. A common friend had introduced us but we met most of the time in the famous Cafe de Flore in the St. Germain de Pres. Valentino never changed. He had a dream then and he realized his dream and now as he has a little more time he continues to live his dream "full time". I think few people worked as hard as he did to achieve his dreams and his vision of life. He wanted to dress the most beautiful and most elegant women in the world---- and he dressed them all. Beauty was the music guide of his great talent. Women loved him for that all over the world. For him the sense of beauty is more important then the essence of fashion. He had his idea how a woman should look and was never influenced by a simple trend or a short- lived fashion moment. What he did was always 100%Valentino and that made his high success all over the world. Also his couture clothes were beautifully made and few people today know what he knows about the craftsmanship of that form of art. If there should be one "Grand Couturier" in Italy it will only and forever be him. Voltaire said: It is not enough to conquer, one must also know how to seduce" He knew and knows both to perfection.

Your old friend, Karl

Cornelia Guest and James LaForce
Allison Sarofim, Michelle Harper and
Nina Garcia
Dr. Valerie Steele of FIT Kristina Kovalinko and Stacey Kovalinko
Yaz Hernandez Daphne Guiness
Coralie Charriol Paul Barbara Regna
Adelina Wong Ettelson and
Ivanka Trump
Daphne Guiness and Valentino
Liz Peek Vanessa and Kob Bryant
Melania Trump and Iris Apfel Alexandra Lebenthal

Antonio Monfreda, Anne Bass and Susan Lyne

Alexandra Kotur and Charlotte Moss

Honorary Luncheon Chairs included Donna Acquavella, Marisa Berenson, Georgina Brandolini, Dr. Joyce F. Brown, Gisele Bündchen, Naomi Campbell, Anna Carter, Claire Danes, Maria Grazia Chiuri, Mica Ertegün, HRH Princess Firyal of Jordan, Charlene de Ganay, Susan Gutfreund, Anne Hathaway, Iman, Deborra-lee Jackman, Gwyneth Paltrow, Pilar Crespi Robert, Allison Sarofim, André Leon Talley, Barbara Walters, and Natalia Vodianov.

Among those guests that attended included Iris Apfel, Dennis Basso, Marisa Berenson, Hamish Bowles, Glenda Bailey, Robin R. Burns, Amy Fine Collins, Renaud Dutreil, Simon Doonan, Ken Downing, Tiffany Dubin, Linda Fargo, Frederic Fekkai and Shirin von Wulffen, Nina Garcia, Zani Gugelmann, Daphne Guinness, Dawn Mello, Tamara Mellon, Helen O’Hagan, Josie Natori, Lisa Perry, Nadja Swarovski, Ivanka Trump, Melania Trump, Robert Verdi, Adrienne Vittadini, Diane von Furstenberg, Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, Anna Wintour, and Paula Zahn.

Additional guests that attended included Fabiola Beracasa, Melissa Berkelhammer, Mario Buatta, Countess Georgina Brandolini, Anna Carter, Buffy Cafritz, Lisa Cashin, Chloe Crespi, Pilar Crespi Robert, Matilda Cuomo, Amy Fine Collins, Cece Cord, Patricia Duff, Susan Magrino Dunning, Mica Ertegun, Somers Farkas, Jamee Gregory, Hilary Geary Ross, Susan Gutfreund, Cornelia Guest, Nina Griscom, Sharon Handler, Michelle Harper, Yaz Hernandez, Marlene Hess, Hon. Brenda Johnson, Kim Kassel, Mariana Kaufman, Eleanora Kennedy, Martha Kramer Fox, Evelyn Lauder, Alexandra Lebenthal, Heather Leeds, Francine Lefrak, Karen Lefrak, Shirley Lord, Ambassador John Loeb, Carol Mack, Charlotte Moss, Nancy Novogrod, Dayssi Olarte de Kanavos, Diana Picasso, Liz Peek, Priscilla Rattazzi, Elizabeth Rohatyn, Beth Rudin DeWoody, Jacqueline Sackler, Daisy Soros, Jamie Tisch, Lizzie Tisch, Barbara Tober, Jacqueline Weld, Sarah Wolfe and Bettina Zilkha.

For more about The Museum at FIT, visit

About FIT:

The Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), of which The Museum at FIT is a part, is a college of art and design, business and technology that educates more than 10,000 students annually. FIT is a college of the State University of New York (SUNY), and offers 46 majors leading to the AAS, BFA, BS, MA, MFA, and MPS degrees. For more about FIT visit




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