Now here’s a picture: Sean Combs, sporting a major diamond cross, lined up in the same row alongside Marie-Chantal of Greece and Gwyneth Paltrow. They came together to worship at the feet of one of the great masters of haute couture propriety, Valentino Garavani. Valentino’s couture, of course, is not even a shade rock ’n’ roll; it’s his generous, elegant femininity that elicits this multigenerational respect. Paltrow even felt moved to pull out her own camera and take a few snaps.

This season, even Valentino took a tiny step toward the dark side that so many other designers are embracing, by making the snake a central motif and working it as a symbol both of Eve's temptation and of elegance, as it's seen in Chinese mythology. Snakes were coiled around heads, clasping waists or entwined on wrists and throats as jewelry. Upswept eye makeup and twisted chignons likewise suggested a bit of wickedness, but ultimately nothing diverted Valentino from his primary goal of making women look gorgeously pretty.

Capes were a major design element; in daywear, they appeared in place of coats, or as half capes incorporated into suit jackets. For evening, they became sheer, glittering and fragile, thrown delicately over dresses or bustiers and pants. A chinoiserie theme ran through the collection, putting Valentino squarely into the resurging glamour trend. Embellished coats, patterned like lacquered cabinets, a black satin Chinese pantsuit trimmed with mink, and fluid high-necked sequined tunics over trousers looked beautifully chic. He rounded out the repertoire with a series of black lace and velvet gowns and topped it off with his signature red-hot finale dresses. If this is her temptation, then womankind’s done for, all over again.