The show's backdrop of scrolling binary code instantly screeched The Matrix, but Valentino's eye on the future remained mercifully untainted by any dystopian flimflam. Instead, the designer claimed inspiration from all the well-dressed young men he sees emerging from stock exchanges in London and New York. If that is indeed the case, those guys deserve an award this season, because Valentino's collection was nearly flawless. Using the finest fabrics and the plainest palette of white, gray, charcoal, and camel, the designer wove a serene vision of sartorial perfection. Tone-on-tone pale shadeswhite, cream, bone, ivoryin velvet layered over cashmere (to isolate just one example) were so lulling, in fact, that the appearance on the catwalk of a pair of black leather pants, followed by a black leather jacket, had a jarring effect (even though they were in the softest plonge).
Sartorialism is a menswear theme for Fall 2007 (cued by the exhibition in Florence devoted to the influence of Savile Row), but Valentino's signal achievement was that nothing about his attention to the details of a classic man's wardrobe was odd, bland, or dull. (You don't truly know tedium until a bespoke obsessive has opened his mouth.) Instead, there was a seductive ease and a genuinely aspirational (as in, "I wish I had that") edge to a single-button double-breasted suit in a Prince of Wales check, never mind the layers of various shades of gray cashmere or the black knit cardigan coat with its buckled closings. A monogrammed cashmere dressing gown struck a bit of a bum note when it came to eveningwear, but you're likely to be too taken with Valentino's daywear to dress for dinner anyway.