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Valentino Valentine

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For 40 years the world’s most elegant women—Jackie Kennedy, Sophia Loren, Liz Taylor, Princess Diana—have worn his gowns. So when some 600 guests turned out on Nov. 17 to pay tribute to designer Valentino Garavani atop the roof of L.A.’s Pacific Design Center, models and movie stars alike were only too happy to be sporting the Valentino label. “He is,” declared Charlize Theron, shimmering in a black signature gown, “absolutely fabulous.”

He was also clearly delighted to see his creations so fabulously displayed. Hosted by Steven Spielberg, Kate Capshaw, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, the gala included a silent auction of photos of celebs outfitted in the 68-year-old designer’s trademark red dresses, along with a fashion show featuring Naomi Campbell and Eva Herzigova wearing his latest line. The guest of honor looked “so proud watching the girls walk the catwalk,” noted Elizabeth Hurley, who was clad in a champagne satin and chiffon gown.

Another reason for pride: The fete raised some $250,000 for the Children’s Action Network, an organization devoted to various young people’s causes. Hanks, who anted up $2,000 for a photo of wife Wilson, seemed as happy spending cash as playing host. “It’s no work at all to come to a party and help children,” he said. Well, almost none. Pointing to his refined Valentino suit, Hanks admitted with a laugh, “The French cuffs slowed me down a little.”

Dan Jewel

Robyn Flans in Los Angeles