Brooke Shields and Pierpaolo Piccioli.


Stefano Sassi knows how to give a toast. At the dinner he and Pierpaolo Piccioli hosted on Wednesday in New York to celebrate Piccioli’s spectacular pre-fall collection that morning, the Valentino chief executive officer stood up, thanked his guests for coming and said of Piccioli, “I’m so happy that he is our creative director.” Piccioli in turn acknowledged the joys of working with “the best team ever.” And, in the vernacular of the men’s homeland, basta, the two clocking in at under 30 seconds between them.

The better for their 40 or so guests to enjoy the discreet chic of the restaurant One If by Land, Two If by Sea, its dining room given over to two long tables set with rows of low vases of mixed white flowers. Partiers included a pair of recent Valentino collaborators; Maripol, the visionary artist/stylist who in the late Seventies art-directed Fiorucci and in the Eighties dressed the virgin-like Madonna, worked on a window art installation when the Valentino opened a store in Aoyama, Tokyo last July. At the dinner, she broke out her famous Polaroid camera to snap headshots. Ben Stiller, who went famously Zoolander on the runway at the end of the fall 2015 show, admitted to having been nervous while strutting his stuff.

Stiller hit the party not with Owen Wilson, but his wife Christine Taylor, who charmingly deflected a compliment. When Stefano Tonchi expressed dismay that the youthful-looking Taylor is mother to a 14-year-old, and that “people must tell you that all the time,” she deadpanned, “No. They don’t.” Such self-deprecation proved something of a motif among the ladies in attendance. During the cocktail hour, Christy Turlington Burns, Brooke Shields and Laura Brown were engaged in conversation about the glories of Piccioli’s work, including Turlington Burns’ dramatic color-blocked dress that fell from her body in a big, pleated trapeze. Shields shrugged her shoulders. “On me,” she said pretending to imagine slipping into the frock, “it’s not a tent. There are no pleats.” For the record, Shields looked sleek and sexy in a tomato red Valentino jumpsuit.

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