The collection Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli presented for Spring couldn't have been more different from their reverent ready-to-wear debut of just over six months ago. Continuing down a path they started on during Couture in July, the duo is now designing with a new Valentino generation in mind—one that likes its party dresses short and isn't afraid of sheer. "We wanted to tell a new fairy tale," Piccioli said backstage. "We're proud of the house heritage, but we wanted to give a personal point of view."

He wasn't kidding in one respect: There wasn't a red dress in sight. Instead, he and Chiuri romanced the soft tones of nude, rose, lavender, gold, and gray that have become the big color story of the season. Their methods included swirling organza around the body and tying it off with a flamboyant bow, embroidering tulle T-shirt dresses in antique laces and geometric metal paillettes, and printing chiffon with black orchids. A couple of fitted leather jackets and minis embellished with laser-cut rosettes provided a bit of edge. Glass slippers didn't figure in this story, but the London-based milliner Philip Treacy did whip up some fanciful footwear with lace wings arcing upward from the heels.

In sum: This was a well-timed step forward for the new Valentino duo, one that put the brand at the center of some of Spring's key trends and started to give it a new relevance.