What seemed like at least half of le tout New York were perched on Valentino's front row for his big show. Versace may have had Chelsea Clinton and Madonna to crow over, but Val also boasted big-time shimmerers like Gwyneth Paltrow in a black Valentino with lace sides and a matching coat trimmed in fur; Sheryl Crow, looking somewhat demure in a black satin Valentino suit trimmed in mink; Cornelia Guest in black and gold brocade bordered in sable, and such etoiles and would-be etoiles as Bianca Jagger, Carolina Herrera, Marina Palma, Nan Kempner, Patty Cisneros and her darling daughter Carolina, Eugenie and Nicholas Clive-Worms, Alexandra Theodoracopulos, Princess Firyal of Jordan, Joan Collins, Georgina Brandolini, Marjorie Gubelmann, Jacques Grange, that sort of thing. The scintillating list went on and on, and so did Valentino's smile.
After the show, a select group swept over to Val's chateau, Wideville, the one with the moat meant to keep out all but the terminally chic, there to dine on souffle, pasta and lamb at three oval tables in the dining room, crowded but cozy. Most of the women were done up in Valentinos, but Carolina Herrera, looking beautiful, wore one of her own designs.
The next night, a smaller selection of swells gathered at a buffet dinner at Valentino partner Giancarlo Giammetti's stunning apartment on the Quai d'Orsay, surrounded by Twomblys, Warhols and the twinkling lights of the Seine. Designed by Peter Marino, some say it is the most elegant flat in Paris. Valentino was there, but of course, along with Nati Abascal, Carolina Herrera in chocolate brown cashmere, Carolina Herrera Jr., Cornelia Guest, Marina Palma, Charlene de Ganay, Marina Livanos and, from Valentino's fashion establishment, Carlos Souza and pretty, pretty Ellen Niven. Everyone just loves being invited to Giancarlo's, and for many reasons, including the food, which is incroyable, thanks to his superb chef.
After all that, the guests hopped into their fancy voitures and off to the Ritz for the Dior party. That's where Valentino ran into one of his favorite models, Claudia Schiffer, who was on the arm of Gilles Dufour. Bernard Arnault quietly held court in a corner table near the bar, where it was easy to genuflect. And the more adventurous tripped downstairs for a quick look at the packed dance floor, where 1,200 of the brave gyrated. It was all terribly exciting, really. Or so they all said over lunch the next day -- and every day -- at the Ritz Bar, where they sat at the best tables, best tables being only their due, vous savez.