A FASHION FIRST: VIRTUAL VALENTINO

NEW YORK — Valentino hasn’t exactly pounced on the Internet with the vigor of some of his fellow designers, but the Rome-based fashion icon is open to new experiences. Plus, he’s getting a lifetime achievement award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America on June 15, and a little cyber-publicity never hurt.
So to promote the CFDA’s American Fashion Awards and to check in with his Web fan base, Valentino and a few assistants sat down at 9 p.m. Roman time to field 42 questions in a chat session via the U.S. fashion Web site Style365.com.
While Valentino declined to have a reporter present during the chat, he did say he was impressed with technology’s ability to make instant worldwide communication possible.
“The Internet is an incredible vehicle which brings the entire world together, making distances disappear,” he said. “I do not use a computer on a daily basis, but I’m aware that this is the instrument of the future for communication. A live online chat is a new way to communicate with my public, and I am thrilled to be participating. This is my way of keeping up with today’s technologies.”
He added: “In fact, HdP, the conglomerate my company is part of, has just purchased 11 percent of Luxgood.com, a new company that deals with e-commerce that will be launched this autumn.”
Valentino’s troubled owners didn’t come up during the chat session, which was about as hard-hitting as an embroidered pashmina.
“I like to be able to communicate with the entire world at once in this medium,” the designer said via the keyboard at the beginning of his session. “And I am full of emotion this evening, and I am very happy to be with you.”
E-mailers asked about celebrities, eveningwear, movies, the Academy Awards and the designer’s favorite topic: glamour, glamour, glamour. One typical exchange went like this:
audrey: Do you have any predictions for the next new trend?
Valentino: My prediction is something nice, wearable and elegant. And this is part of fashion for every century.
sampr: If you weren’t designing, what do you think you would be doing?
Valentino: I think a designer. (laughs)
The chat is part of Style365.com’s countdown to the CFDA awards, which will broadcast live over the Web.
The next chat will be with Kenneth Cole on May 31.