October 28, 2011 05:30 PM

Jamie McCarthy/WireImage

Jessica Biel canoodled with on-again beau Justin Timberlake earlier this week, but on Thursday at Fashion Group International’s Night of Stars, the solo star publicly declared her love for another man: designer Giambattista Valli. Or Giamba, as he is known to an inner circle which includes Biel, Sarah Jessica Parker and Princess Rania of Jordan, among others.

On the red carpet, Biel gushed about her Valli gown, an ethereal white dress with a metal leaf-like belt cinching her waist. “It’s just one of those dresses that probably looks incredible on everybody,” she told PEOPLE. “Isn’t it cool?”

However, not everybody will have the chance to wear it; Valli told PEOPLE that parts of the look were created “expressly for her.” Why the generosity? “She’s a very good friend, from the beginning of both our careers,” the designer said.

Valli, who was honored at the event, said often it’s the wearer who really makes the gown. “When I do clothes, I do 50 percent of the job,” he explained. “The other 50 percent has to be the interpretation of the person who is going to wear it, and [Biel] does that in a wonderful way. She’s a great actress, a beautiful woman, a great friend.”

Biel had the chance to share her own kind words about Valli later in the evening, when she presented him with his award. In her speech, the actress described their very first night on the town after his runway show in Paris.

“We dined on the most delicious vodka and pickles I had ever tasted. And I tried caviar for the first time,” she recalled. “I was both intimidated and awed by this beautiful man, simply dressed and accessorized with one strand of enormous pearls. His creations reflect the person he is: daring, flirtatious … the kind of man who keeps you out on the town until four a.m. and then uses the night’s adventures as inspiration in the morning.”

However, Biel did have a secret to reveal to her fashionable pal. “Giamba, I have a confession,” she said. “I really hated that caviar. But I loved you. And like a simple silhouette with a shocking train of ruffles, or a sheath topped with an enormous bow, you stand with your pearls as a one-of-a-kind creation yourself.”

Valli is also the man behind the most recent Macy’s Impulse collaboration; his lower-priced line of cocktail dresses and separates just arrived in stores this week.

–Jeffrey Slonim


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