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Val’s Curtain Call

Before showing his couture collection in Paris this week, Valentino took some bows in Washington at the premiere of the opera "The Dream of Valentino" at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Val designed the lead costumes for the production, which...

Before showing his couture collection in Paris this week, Valentino took some bows in Washington at the premiere of the opera “The Dream of Valentino” at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Val designed the lead costumes for the production, which is based on the life and death of matinee idol Rudolph Valentino.

Somehow, all those runway appearances didn’t seem to prepare Valentino for his curtain call with composer Dominick Argento and the cast. The designer looked nervous when he appeared on stage, peering cautiously from side to side to gauge when and how deeply to bow.

Backstage, after the show, he was relaxed and talkative.

“There’s not just one idol now, there are many,” he said. “Kevin Costner is one and Robert De Niro.”

Val recalled his experience costuming a ballet for George Balanchine.

“Balanchine liked the designs, but then in rehearsal he found them too strong and decided he wanted only leotards,” he said. “I did not mind; I understood.”

After the performance, more than 250 guests sat down to a midnight supper, including Countess Georgina Brandolini, Anne Bass and Matthew and Cari Modine, who attracted plenty of attention in her Valentino with a skin-tight bodice and full skirt.