Eye on the Runway: Valentino Couture Spring 2013

Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Picciolo have, by now, firmly established themselves as worthy and innovative successors at Valentino. Their couture presentation this week was awe-inspiring, not merely for the grandiose beauty of the gowns, but for the sheer amount of time dedicated to the craft —nay, art.

Spring radiated from the catwalk as the duo sent forth ornate, diaphanous, and flower-embroidered gowns, sprinkled with slick minimal sheaths in cloud white and house red. Rolled crepe formed a cage around a majority of the frocks (and even shoes, in some instances), evoking first-thaw vines sprouting from the ground, sun-seeking shoots bending this way and that, as well as wrought-iron gates guarding some baroque church garden. If there’s a more fantastically romantic image than that, we’d like to know. Also, that red piping took five hundred combined man-hours to roll.

Yet, notably and thankfully, it wasn’t all bright and breezy — Chiuri and Picciolo interspersed the love story with darker options, including a sheer-sleeved black and vermillion dress with red notches along its mini-V collar. The showstopper was a dove-gray evening number with an extra-large peplum flaring from a tulle bodice wrapped in silver, grassy embroidery. So even though this collection captured the season’s cues, the otherwise overdone inspiration felt new, and it felt like magic — a secret garden in Paris.

–Nicholas Remsen

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Images: Valentino during the Haute Couture Spring-Summer 2013 collection /PATRICK KOVARIK/AFP/Getty Images