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What’s couture week without a to-die-for party? This season it was Valentino who obliged, when he opened the wrought-iron gates of his magnificent Chateau de Wideville near Versailles on Wednesday night.

Although it was only a few hours after his own couture runway show — and although his 100 dinner guests included Kristin Scott Thomas, Tom Ford, Rosario of Bulgaria, Julio Mario and Beatrice Santo Domingo, Ira von Furstenberg and Ines Sastre — Valentino looked as relaxed and rested as if he were on a long summer holiday.

This story first appeared in the July 14, 2003 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“You think after so many years in fashion I’m going to be hysterical?” he said with a wink. “Life is too complicated to always be stressed.”

Apparently houseguest Blythe Danner, who was staying there with her daughter, Gwyneth Paltrow, also fell under the enchanted chateau’s stress-free spell.

“Yesterday, I fell asleep in front of that fabulous lavender garden,” she said during dinner in a tent behind the chateau. “I haven’t done that since I was 5 years old.”

She might have slumbered like a child — but apparently the sight of a houseguest laying prostrate in the garden terrified a gardener. He dashed to the house in alarm, afraid that Danner “was not feeling so well,” as Carlos Souza delicately put it.

But to the contrary — after dinner, Danner was on her feet and dancing alongside her daughter, near where Suzanne Saperstein was dancing with her daughter, Alexis.

Giancarlo Giammetti snapped photos of it all, with a digital camera that made a sound approximating the click of a shutter.

“Why does it make that noise?” asked Tamara Beckwith, imitating it with a lip-smacking kiss.

“Sexy,” purred Giammetti.

Meanwhile, Bruce Hoeksema lead a tour of the house, as a gaggle of New York girls, including Marjorie Raein, Jennifer Creel and Lillian von Stauffenberg, oohed and aahed over the lavish trappings.

Amid all the princely splendor of the house, one contemporary detail caught observant eyes. In the master bedroom, a well-thumbed volume on one table gave evidence of the master’s bedtime reading: “The Devil Wears Prada.”

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