It’s a Sadistic circus spectacle. Gladiators battle to the death. Trumpets blare. Doomed martyrs are thrown to the beasts. Bombastic drums and Imperial brass declare the force and power of Rome.
That is the scene which opens the 2015-2016 season of the San Francisco Symphony this month, with Michael Tilson Thomas conducting Respighi’s wonderful “Roman Festivals,” which begins with a brash depiction of the ancient Roman circus, but moves on to present the jubilance and joy of communal celebration, with a sound uniquely Roman.
Ottorino Respighi’s compositions, in the words of scholar David B. Knight, “serve to give a life to the historical city of Rome that is at once beguiling and, yet, also stunning.”
The same could be said of the work of fashion designer Valentino Garavani, who was born just a few years after Respighi composed “Roman Festivals,” and became just as important to Roman cultural life of the past 50 years.
Valentino and Rome are as deeply intertwined as Yves Saint Laurent and Paris, Donna Karan and New York, or Levi Strauss and San Francisco. It’s fitting, then, that Valentino decided to sponsor the after party for the Symphony’s Opening Gala, an elegant ending to an evening that starts with the sounds of Roman merriment.
To celebrate the partnership, Symphony Gala co-chairs Dagmar Dolby and Natasha Dolby recently hosted a cocktail party at Valentino’s Union Square boutique, attended by Symphony supporters such as Dede Wilsey, Komal Shah, and Mimi Haas, among others.
I don’t think I’ve seen so many people wearing Valentino outside a Valentino fashion show, and they all looked exquisite. There’s something irresistible about Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli’s designs for the house, especially the pieces from the most recent collections with their beautiful embroideries and prints designed by Celia Birtwell and Italian Pop Artist Giosetta Fioroni.
Having seen how San Francisco dons Valentino at cocktail hour, I can’t wait to see Valentino’s dramatic evening dresses at the Symphony gala. The more the better! We’re all Romans this month. And as they say, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do… wear Valentino.”
See the Valentino Slideshow Below!