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The Globe and Mail

Valentino’s hot design duo put on a princess-perfect couture show

Style reporter Amy Verner is covering the major shows at Paris Couture Fashion Week this week. Follow her on Twitter @ amyverner .


The Designers

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Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli have names that are a mouthful, especially compared to the retired Valentino, who dropped his Garavani surname perhaps for this very reason. But that aside, they are proving to be hard-working beneficiaries of the brand. This couture collection comes hot on the heels of their well-received men's wear show.

The Show

Anne Hathaway, who has worn Valentino for years, was in attendance and remains the perfect Valentino poster girl: part fictional princess, part cover girl and all class-act charm.

The Statement

The duo dreamt up an Old World Russian fantasy and layered on the decadence – extensive handwork was required to produce the bronzed metal embroidered lace, hand-painted devoré velvet flowers woven into tulle – but did so without any gaudy pretension. To balance all the sparkle: velvet with braided detailing inspired by the Cossacks, or a mosaic of cutouts that looked like architectural buttresses. To wit, several looks were attributed to anything famous and Russian: Kandinsky, Fabergé, Rodchenko, Erté and Sevruga (as in, the caviar) all made the cut.

The Effect

For anyone who had any doubts about the handwork that goes into couture, the press notes highlighted the hours required to complete the most intricate embroidered pieces. Most averaged around 350 hours, with a minimum of 150 hours, and an astounding maximum of 2,300 hours for a crystal-encrusted dress.

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The Takeaway

This collection represented a defining moment for the designers who have taken the Valentino heritage (yes, there were two signature red dresses) and imbued it with their own dreamy aesthetic. On another note, the models were all crowned with delicate gold and crystal diadems, an accessory bound for Gossip Girl if ever there were one.

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