The brand new Valentino boutique on Rodeo Drive, designed by architect Sir David Chipperfield, took a year to put together, but its fresh airy lightness, chandeliers and crystal adorning separate rooms for shoes, ready to wear clothing items and handbags, was well worth the wait.
And its opulence certainly fit the style of the Rome-based luxury brand, with its long history of dressing icons; its designers helped stoke legend by creating ensembles for classic beauties such as Jackie Kennedy Onassis, Elizabeth Taylor and Sophia Loren, and, in more recent years, have helped Julia Roberts, Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Lopez, Jennifer Aniston, and Halle Berry drop jaws at the red carpet.
The boutique opening and after party at The Sunset Tower were hosted by Maria Bell (with a cool new haircut by Sally Hershberger), Gia Coppola (in a cute red Valentino dress), Nicky Hilton, Helen Kinnear, Nathalie Love (daughter of Vogue Magazine's Lisa Love), Minnie Mortimer, Shannon Rotenberg and Julia Sorkin. There were at least 150 guests packed into the boutique, champagne glasses in hand, toasting to different generations and style.
Guests, who got to meet and greet with Valentino designers Maris Grazia Chiuri (in a beautiful spring Valentino black gown with gold embroidery and embellishment) and Pier Paolo Piccioli, were a very pregnant Molly Sims, Rachel Zoe (in a new Val animal print dress), Minka Kelly, stylist Estee Stanley, Alice Eve, and stylist George Kotsiopolous.
The star-studded guest list went on: THR-list topping stylist Elizabeth Stewart, Teresa Palmer, Ellie Kemper (in a chic red Val dress) with her stylist Jessica Paster, Rose McGowan, Abigail Spencer, Jessica Stroup, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Sex and the City hunk Jason Lewis and the ever-present Kim Kardashian.
For all the big names packed into the posh setting of the store, the after party was the true highlight of the night. Instead of the usual fairly stuffy fashion dinner, with place cards and white napkins, The Sunset Tower opted to keep the energy high and the scene moving with a great DJ and a buffet of light salads. The crowd flowed through an outdoor pool area, deck and the inside private dining area, so it never seemed as crowded as it was.
It was really novel to see the likes of Betsy Bloomingdale and society decorator Waldo Fernandez hanging out with Madonna stylist B. Akerlund (in an amazing black and gold outfit with black and gold deco boots), Maria Bell and philanthropist Liane Weintraub meeting the young celebs, Kelly being introduced to older socialites, and Zoe and Sims discussing motherhood. Kim Kardashian avoided interviews -- and with them, talk about the now-infamous flour bombing -- but seemed in good spirits, anyway. Most of the young actresses were outfitted in new Valentino looks - but there were many Valentino longtime afficianados present, too, like Bloomingdale.
Many remarked that they've rarely seen an L.A. fashion dinner with such a spectrum of ages, careers, and styles; it was reminiscent of events in New York and Europe, but rare in Hollywood..
It's the rebirth of the boutique, and it seems, in terms of youthful image, the brand as well. Both designers worked under Mr. Valentino for at least a decade, so they understand the polish and finesse of the clothes, but are determined to infuse it with fun and youth - and they seem to be pulling it off. Not a bad outfit in sight - a great looking crowd from 18 to over 80.