While most of us are still recovering from New York Fashion Week, Lincoln Center seems to be bouncing back quite nicely. One star-studded party Thursday night was dedicated to iconic designer Valentino Garavani, who emerged from retirement to design and create costumes for three upcoming ballets. To honor the designer, the ballet will be performing George Balanchine's Rubies—because nothing is more Valentino than that signature red. We chatted with event chairmen Giancarlo Giammetti, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Valentino himself about the designer's endless love of the classic art form.
In case you need a brief V 101: Giancarlo Giammetti has been Valentino's longtime business and life partner. His dynamic relationship with Valentino was chronicled in the 2008 documentary Valentino: The Last Emperor, which made us all wish even more that the designer would come out of retirement. So — yes! — Giammetti found Valentino and the ballet to be a perfect fit for a comeback (we agree!), and explained that the choreography is actually planned around the stunning designs. Ahead, read our exclusive interview, dream about rubies, SJP's wardrobe, and you know, all that insane Valentino.
So, the ballet will be performing a piece called Rubies in honor of Valentino and his signature red. How do you two the two compliment each other so perfectly?
"It [the ballet] is something Valentino loves, it's something Valentino admires — the discipline of the dancers. Tonight, he brought haute-couture into the ballet. This was something different for the ballet. It was something different for Valentino. I think they combine very well together."
Photographed by Julie Skarrett
Sarah Jessica Parker, a former dancer herself, helped plan the event and knew Valentino's airy design aesthetic was a no-brainer match for the demanding requirements of performance-ready costumes. The only concern was whether he would actually emerge from retirement for the project. Luckily for SJP and NYCB Master-In-Chief Peter Martins, Valentino said sì. Dressed in head-to-toe Valentino florals (accessorized by Fred Leighton jewels), SJP elaborated upon Valentino's respect for the ballet and its required discipline.
How do Valentino and the ballet compliment each other?
"Well, first of all, he's a great enthusiast of the company, and of ballet in general. He's a great audience. He talks about all of his experiences and times spent in the theatre. It's one of the things he loves to do most, and he has built costumes for the ballet in the past. He loves this company and he loves the art form and he understands it. He understands athleticism and grace and that kind of describes his work actually, in a funny way. I think he loves building and designing. The fact that he has affection for this company and has a long relationship with Peter Martins, it just seemed like it might work if we dared ask, and it did."
Valentino's smile widened as he spoke about contributing to an art form, aside from fashion, that he has followed and admired for years. Photos of his designs released thus far display intricate lacework brought to life by splashes of red — and we can only imagine they look even better flouncing and flowing on stage. The designer arrived on the red carpet full of humble excitement to be a spectator of the theatre once again, and enjoy the glory of his creations in motion: "I follow the ballet very much, the opera very much. And, I love music very, very much. Though, I have a bigger tendency to follow classical music over modern music." Fittingly, Valentino stressed his designs are meant to be enjoyed as "jewels" — and indeed they do glitter up on stage and under the lights. The Ballet's choice of Valentino and Rubies was truly a match made in haute-couture heaven.
Photographed by Paul Kolnik