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Valentino to Receive Grand Medaille de Paris

Godfrey Deeny
December 14th, 2007 @ 00:45 AM - Paris

The mayor of the City of Light is to award Valentino with the Grand Medaille de Vermeil de la Ville de Paris, the equivalent of making him an honorary citizen of the French capital.

Paris’ socialist mayor Bertrand Delanoe will pin the Grand Medaille on to the great couturier during the upcoming haute couture season in January, when Valentino will stage his final runway show.

Among previous winners are the great fashion illustrator Erte, designer Gianni Versace, who was awarded the medal by then mayor Jacques Chirac in 1986, actors Maggie Cheung and Jackie Chang and Nobel Prize winning scientist Linus Pauling. The vermillion medal usually features a view of Ile de la Cite and a simple inscription on the reverse.

In 2005, the medal was a source of Hollywood controversy when Anne Hidalgo a senior socialist politician promised in the name of Delanoe that the mayor intended “to be vigilant” that Tom Cruise would never receive the Grand Medaille due to his membership of the church Scientology, regarded as a cult in official French circles.

“It’s another great honor and from the French government too,” Valentino has been telling friends, referring to the fact that he was awarded the Legion d’Honneur in July 2006.

France’s Culture Minister Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres pinned the red-ribboned honor onto Valentino in the Palais Royal’s opulent ministry of culture, once Richelieu’s Palace. However, Delanoe will make his award to Sir Val in the 19th century City Hall.

Valentino announced his retirement in September, seven weeks after celebrating his 45th anniversary in fashion with a sumptuous weekend in Rome. His departure came three months after equity fund Permira won a takeover battle to acquire the Valentino Fashion Group, in a deal that valued the designer’s fashion house at $380 million.

He certainly is going out on a high, not as a champion slugging out some final pointless rounds. His celebratory weekend in Rome summed up his obsession with opulent living.


His fashion house spent a reported 10 million euros on his Eternal City festivities, including a private party of 400 set in the ancient Temple of Venus and designed by cineaste Dante Ferretti, set director Zefferelli and Fellini in Italy and latterly of Oscar winners "Cold Mountain" and "The Aviator." Beauties floated in five-meter long Valentino sinful red dresses across the amphitheater, shadows cast expressionistically over apartment buildings, ancient stones, churches and Mediterranean pine. Guests like Uma Thurman, Claudia Schiffer, Sarah Jessica Parker, Anne Hathaway and Elle MacPherson attended a runway show in the longest Renaissance room in Rome the next day, before enjoying a dinner for 1,000, wined on Ruinart and Tignanello and entertained by Annie Lennox.

Valentino, who dressed Jacqueline Kennedy in her wedding with Aristotle Onassis, was the first major Italian designer to show his couture collection in Paris.

Valentino will stage his final, final couture show on Wednesday, Jan 23, in what promises to be an emotional affair. In recent years, Valentino has staged his couture catwalk displays in the Ecole des Beaux Arts, but as the historic art school is undergoing extensive renovations he will show elsewhere this season.

Valentino, who owns Wideville, a Louis XIII chateau near Versailles, where by the couturier’s estimate he has grown one million roses, will be pretty much based in Paris next month.

In a related move, Valentino is skipping the men’s catwalk season in the third week of January and will instead show his final men’s collection in presentation in Paris.

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