The shoes at Valentino—blush-colored patent-leather kitten heels trimmed in metal studs—are an apt metaphor for the direction Pier Paolo Piccioli and Maria Grazia Chiuri are taking the storied label. Former accessories designers under Valentino Garavani himself, they're utterly in touch with all of the house's romantic, ruffled codes, but they're determined to modernize it with their more dangerous, youthful sensibilities. Their biggest success so far: dressing fashion favorite Chloë Sevigny in one of their Spring gowns for the Golden Globes back in January.

Today, the experimental films of Kenneth Anger, who sat front-row, gave the proceedings a bit of edge, but the contemporary feel came from the clothes themselves. Yes, there were ruffles by the yard, but they decorated little cropped leather jackets worn over party dresses just as tiny. There were scads of lace, too, but the designers patchworked it irreverently together with point d'esprit and leather mesh. And they didn't ignore Valentino's signature color, red, which looked fresh layered with a powdery nude on the final draped gown. That, however, wasn't the collection's most showstopping evening number. That title belonged to another dress, made from tiers of lace hand-embroidered with thousands of minuscule, shimmering lilac beads.

Giancarlo Giammetti, the house's co-founder, famously criticized the duo's most recent couture show on his Facebook page as a "ridiculous circus." He was all smiles tonight, as were some young editors, whose collective reflections can be summarized as, "Wow, I want to wear Valentino for the first time."