Eccentricity. That's the concept Valentino's Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli trumpeted for Pre-Fall. On the phone from Europe, where they're working on the men's collection they'll show later this week and couture for the week after, they called out Isabella Blow and Anna Piaggi, women who were known for dressing with plenty of personality, as role models. The collection's streamlined, effortless silhouettes will be familiar to Valentino watchers. Eccentricity was conveyed via decorative motifs—most significantly the butterfly, although owls and eagles turned up, too. Butterflies appeared elaborately inset, intaglio-style, on the front of cashmere pullover tops and on the back of cashmere capes, their wings stretching seam to seam. Other times, the designers embroidered colorful flying creatures all over a coat and layered it on top of cropped trousers in a jacquard version of the same motif. "A storm of butterflies," is what they called it. A suitably bold description.

The level of workmanship always astounds here, and the designers' output is usually prodigious; that holds true this season, just as it would at one of their Paris catwalk shows. It especially applies to their evening offerings. Gwyneth Paltrow was camera-shy at the Golden Globes on Sunday night—too bad, she was wearing a lovely dress from the house that was stitched neckline to hem in tiny turquoise seed beads and gold thread. Indeed, there are enough gowns in this Pre-Fall offering to dress all of the nominees at the SAG Awards this Saturday, but it will be an especially lucky actress whose stylist nabs the gown in silvery-blue lace with the feathered collar and cap sleeves.

Individuality is one thing, but in the end, women often like to belong to a group. That's why this season's heather gray cashmere astrology sweaters, each with a different sign of the zodiac, like the gold pendants on the designers' Spring runway, are sure to be a hit.