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Standing on the red carpet at Lincoln Center on Wednesday afternoon, Valentino was feeling a bit moved.


This story first appeared in the September 9, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“I have to tell you, I am very emotional because it’s a good award, and after two-and-a-half years, when I stop my job, it is nice to be here and to have this award,” he said. The retired designer was at the David H. Koch Theater to receive the FIT Couture Council’s Award for Artistry of Fashion. Naturally, a crowd of well-heeled women and fashion figures, which included Diane von Furstenberg, Daphne Guinness, Anna Wintour, Julia Koch, Ivanka Trump and Melania Trump, had turned out for the occasion. One clear standout in the crowd was Kobe Bryant, who attended with his wife, Vanessa. Despite some recent fashion forays among his NBA brethren, Bryant explained that he wouldn’t be sticking around for fashion week.

“We’re actually here for vacation for our kids before they go back to school,” Bryant said. “We leave today, but we had the invitation to attend the luncheon. We couldn’t possibly turn this down, so here we are.”


Still, Bryant said he could appreciate the cause.

“Whether it’s business, whether it’s fashion, whether it’s professional sports, it’s good to meet the people who are at the top of the game in their own industry,” he said. “I have a genuine appreciation for people who are great at what they do and the work ethic that they put into it.”

Among those who toasted Valentino before the award was bestowed was Simon Doonan. In his remarks, the Barneys New York creative ambassador envisioned the designer opening up an academy to teach today’s more earnest young designers “fabulosity.”

Earlier, on the red carpet, Valentino had flirted with the subject himself when asked whether he was still paying attention to fashion in his retirement.

“Yes, vaguely, from afar, but I know what’s going on, what I like, what I don’t like,” he said. “I belong to a generation that in the world of fashion, we have very few there now. It’s something totally different, what is today. But the young, they do quite a good job. And the good ones, they would love to approach and be very close to what we did in the past.”

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