There's some irony in using folk costume as inspiration for clothes as haute as the ones Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli make at Valentino. The fashion on their runway today was of the people, but not for the people—it's for a rarefied, very lucky few.

For Fall, the designers wove an enchanting, globe-trotting story through the sweetly feminine silhouettes they've established as their own over the last few ready-to-wear and couture seasons. Pasolini's Medea was on their mood board, along with other photos of women in native dress torn from film, fashion editorials, and real life. A white coat-dress was stitched with red and blue thread in a native motif—Russian maybe, or Greek, the mix was the message. Another was made from a densely woven jacquard that looked like an Oriental carpet. A lot of craft went into the pieces, but they weren't craftsy. In fact, black leather gave the duo's by-now familiar dresses and jumpsuits a new edge; it was characteristically softened with macramé seams and passementerie details.

Daywear was the distinct emphasis here with smart-looking frog-closure coats and Aran sweaters dotted here and there with crystals. For evening, Chiuri and Piccioli proposed long, loose-fitting shorts in black leather with a sheer beaded tunic and an embroidered velvet vest—black tie, but with a modern kick. Their other after-dark ideas had a more demure look thanks to above-the-ankle hems and, more often than not, long sleeves. The best came in multicolor crystals that reproduced that carpet pattern. Talk about a magic carpet ride.