It Seems Like Yesterday: Remembering Valentino Garavani’s 46th Birthday


May 11, 1978. New York City. Studio 54. Midnight.

The extraordinary fantasy celebration for Valentino Garavani’s 46th birthday was orchestrated in just two days by Valentino’s longtime friend and business partner, Giancarlo Giammetti.

Valentino was dressed as Ringmaster of the Fantasy Circus with a select few friends actually wearing the amazing original costumes designed by Danilo Donati for the 1970 Federico Fellini film The Clowns. Giammetti wore an ornate, multicolored sequined coat complete with a white organza ruffled collar, topped with a silver-sequined, cone-shaped hat. Directly in front of Giammetti in my photograph, wearing a simple white caftan and black hat, is the artist Joe Eula, whose sketches for Halston’s designs are legendary. Vice President of Valentino Couture, Luciano Villarini, scored the most elaborate costume, the black ruffled extravaganza outlined in silver sequins. At the very top of the photograph stands Valentino’s brand ambassador, Carlos Souza, in a solid white jumpsuit bursting with ruffles.

A myriad of friends joined in the celebration to pay tribute to the legendary designer: fellow designers Giorgio Sant’Angelo, in a lion’s-head mask, Scott Barrie, and Stephen Burrows; fashionista Marina Schiano; awarding-winning and groundbreaking modeling-agency founder Beth Anne Harrison; Gianni Uzielli, not surprisingly in a beautifully tailored conservative suit; and socialites Nan Kempner and Jacqueline de Ribes dancing the night away.

I didn’t stay long at Studio 54 but heard afterward that Valentino remained his serene, unflappable self the entire evening and slipped away quietly around 4 a.m., leaving the revelry in full swing.

Definitely reminiscent of La Dolce Vita—it was a night to remember.