Aside from the social scene, it may be the designer's new Jacques Grange-designed apartment that has made the Big Apple so alluring to Val. Unlike his more over-the-top residences in Capri, Rome, Gstaad and London (not to mention his Louis XIII-era chateau outside Paris) his Manhattan apartment is much more understated, according to Grange. "He wanted it to be more modern and light. He wanted a change," Grange told me recently. One
impetus for the shift is Valentino's extensive collection of contemporary and modern art, for which he wanted a more neutral background.Â

One star of the collection is actually a Warhol portrait of Valentino himself, which he had to buy for megabucks after initially passing when Warhol offered it to him decades ago. When I asked Valentino about it at Bob Colacello's party, he explained with a chuckle, "$15,000 or $20,000 was still a lot of money then." Above left: Valentino and Claudia Schiffer at the Met gala. Photo: Stephen Lovekin/ Getty Images. Above right: Jennifer Garner and Valentino. Photo: Peter Kramer/ Getty Images.