Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli's Valentino dresses make girls swoon. The modest shapes, the delicate fabrics, the exquisite embroideries—pull one on and you're suddenly Cinderella at the ball. This season, they've even whipped up crystal slippers accessorized with their signature gold studs.
The designers said that the Rome of their memories was the inspiration behind the collection. In this, they're very much in tune with the Paris season, which, thanks to Raf's and Hedi's prêt-à-porter debuts at Dior and Saint Laurent, respectively, has been about revisiting the great couture houses' roots. Valentino Garavani—as alta moda as it gets—was sitting in today's front row.
On the runway the clothes were more intimate in feeling than last season's folk-influenced show. Credit for that goes to the slipdresses that were the collection's foundation (in both senses) as well as the simple tone-on-tone embellishments the designers chose. Pointing to the tiny white seed beads embroidered on the powder pink bibs of several dresses, Chiuri called them "poor." Likewise the white sequins on white brocade. Again, though, the results were almost aristocratic. The Valentino duo gives you your princess moment, albeit with a subtle but important hint of Belle de Jour kink.
The collection started spare, with slipdresses in silk panama, the seams hand-tacked to leave a few centimeters of skin exposed. On other long-sleeve dresses in solid colors, seaming details around the neckline were the only decoration. Chiuri and Piccioli wouldn't have made bad minimalists, but that's not the heritage of the house they inherited. Instead, there were hand-painted black flowers on the white lace of a long dress; snakeskin cut into long strips and affixed to the organza of a shirtdress or a clear plastic trench (Deneuve would approve of that); a pair of Valentino red gowns; and, to finish, a long-sleeve number in blush-colored silk embroidered with tiny white beads in botanical patterns. Cinderella, eat your heart out.