Leave it to Valentino to come up with a staging scheme to rival the Oscars. His Paris set, with its tall flight of steps at the back of the runway, was easily the match of the Kodak Theatre, the venue upon which a billion pairs of eyes would be trained in a little over 12 hours.

Descending that staircase, Valentino's models paused for a few moments to let the audience take in the view—a tableau vivant in black and white that drove home his essential message about "the sexiness of black." Then one by one, they took to the runway in double-layered—"two-fold," according to his program notes—blousons and coats, or houndstooths, herringbones, and chevrons, all of which contributed elegantly to the two-tone theme.

Less successful was a passage of sequined graffiti prints in jarring Easter egg colors that paid too direct an homage to the eighties art star Jean-Michel Basquiat. Valentino must know that his clients prefer their contemporary art on their walls, not on their cocktail dresses. The quartet of Valentino red gowns that closed the show were truer to his classic aesthetic. Now that this color has taken center stage, who better to turn to than the master himself?