San Francisco showed off its bella figura at the splashy opening of the luxe Valentino Store on Grant Avenue. A coveted invitation for the shopping set, the store offers four floors of flagship finery, including the Men's Collection, a first in the U.S. This means that the lovely ladies who don't actually eat lunch can swoon and spend to their heart's content, with plenty of temptation: this pink mink, or should I rock the red? Since the retirement of the perpetually tanned Signore Valentino Garavani, the brand has toughened up a bit, splashing its signature "rock stud" trim on shoes, bags, and baubles, but retaining the feminine lace, illusion tulle, soft silhouettes, and signature Roman red for which it is known.
A series of accessories in far-out fluorescent camouflage surprised those expecting a sedate suit with a pretty pink bow; this is not your mother's Valentino, but the handiwork of a breakthrough design duo of Maria Grazia Chiur and Pierpaolo Piccioli, who clearly revel in the sweet excess of embellishment. All of which was in effervescent evidence at the cocktail and canapé reception, rain be damned with handsome phalanx of umbrella-attendants ready to keep the revelers dry. Hors d'oeuvres the size of a small stamp were proffered to pop in the mouth, accompanied by champagne, chianti and DJ Chelsey Leyland spinning hits in a fab frock. But the scene stealer was the irrepressible Sonya Molodetskaya in Schiaparelli pink and a t-shirt emblazoned, "Who needs Valentines when you have Valentino?" San Francisco shows that Val's gals are a brand's best pals.
And who was in the Valentino scene-o? The evening was a kickoff for SFMOMA's much-anticipated Modern Ball, so the mod pod made a swank appearance, including Christine and Pierre Lamond, Randi and Bob Fisher, Diana Nelson and John Atwater, Dolly and George Chammas, and Joni Binder Shwarts. Also rocking the house: Suave society jeweler Carlos de Souza, Joel Goodrich and Damion Matthews, Charlot and Gregory Malin just back from old Bombay, Minal Jethmal, Elizabeth Fullerton, Elaine Mellis, Rada Katz, Kevin Sessums, new 7×7 owner Chloe Harris, Brenda Zarate, Liz Curtis, Kal Holczler, Kp Tan, Carol Bonnie, Marilyn and Michael Cabak, Marybeth Shimmon, Willie Brown, Leslie Podell, Suzanne Levit, Modern Ball mastermind Stanlee Gatti, Connie Nielsen, Victoire Reynal, Ken Fulk, Denise Hale, Terri Murphy Mino, Damion Smith, Alison Gelb Pincus, Vanessa Getty, Maria Manetti Shrem, who knows a thing or two about la dolce vita, Kate Harbin, Leigh Matthes, Katie and Todd Traina, the lovely Komal Shah , and a super sampling of San Fran's rock studs and rock stars.