Pier Paolo Piccioli and Maria Grazia Chiuri have connected with the in crowd. The studded patent kitten heels from their last collection are among this fashion season's It-est shoes—no small feat, considering the kind of girls we're talking about are used to wearing 110-mm stilettos to lunch. Something about the duo's new take on Valentino's signature elegance looks fresh to the under-35 set, and they're buying. In response, perhaps, the designers' focused Spring collection wasn't so much a step forward as it was a refinement of ideas they proposed for Fall.

In other words, there were a lot of ruffles, and even more lace—the former, especially, rendered more subtly this season. The show's most memorable dress boasted a floral motif embroidered from gold foil thread, but lace stitched from strips of crinoline on tulle and cut into a coat-dress, skirts, and even a pair of shorts also displayed incredible couturelike workmanship. In step with the season, Piccioli and Chiuri did long-sleeved maxi dresses belted high on the waist, including one in Valentino's signature red.

But even their party girls can't live on cocktails alone, so daywear didn't get short shrift. The season's omnipresent shirtdress came in a deep pink crepe, ruffled skirtsuits were cut in straightforward cotton or denim (yes, you read that right), and a black leather jacket was spliced with raffia. This time, shoes came with a slightly higher heel and gold chain ankle straps, and last season's studs reappeared as trim on day bags.

Valentino, the man himself, seemed pleased as he was escorted backstage afterward. This collection will keep the young Hollywood and Euro-aristo sets in dresses all summer long.