All eyes were on Valentino when the legendary designer was awarded the Fashion Institute of Technology Couture Council's Award for Artistry of Fashion at the David Koch Theater at New York City's Lincoln Center on Wednesday, September 7th.
"Valentino teaches young designers how to be impresarios," joked Barneys' Creative Ambassador-at-Large Simon Doonan during the luncheon.
Later, Vogue editor Anna Wintour celebrated the "extraordinarily talented and eternally charistmatic" designer. "Valentino went to Rome with a dream and turned that dream into an empire," said Wintour. "We all take pride in your work."
Valentino, the subject of the 2008 fashion documentary Valentino: The Last Emperor, offered thanks to the United States for his career, saying, "Americans were the first to embrace my designs."
The living legend went on to recall some of his most sacred sartorial memories, including his work with Jackie Kennedy Onassis, who wore a Valentino original for her second wedding.
More than just extolling fashion, however, the event also celebrated the indispensable importance of pedagogical relationships. "FIT preserves the art of fashion," said Valentino of the storied New York fashion school. "Fashion must be free and not constrained by commercial interests." The event was to raise money for FIT's Couture Council, a membership group dedicated to supporting exhibitions at the Museum at FIT. Also in attendance were Marie Claire fashion director and Project Runway judge Nina Garcia, designers Diane von Furstenberg, Josie Natori and Adrienne Vittadini, and artist Daphne Guinness.
Remarked Valerie Steele, director of the Museum at FIT: "Valentino has dedicated his entire life to women's beauty."
Valentino is now reportedly in talks to develop a musical about his life, but the designer remains mum on the details. "It is a project at early stage and an idea that will be developed in time. I am not in a hurry," he said through a spokesman. "After all, I love Broadway and indeed the script — or libretto — of my life I agree can be quite fabulous."