Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli dressed the grand hotel particulier in which they show their haute couture collections for Valentino with taxidermy, antique shields and more curiosities this evening in Paris. It looked like a particularly discerning collector's dream which sat well with the layer upon layer of knowledge - both technical and ideas-based - that ran through their extraordinarily beautiful and exceptionally refined show.
Since these designers took over at this grand Roman house nearly five years ago they have quietly and without fanfare modernised the Valentino aesthetic, never losing sight of its core values but reinventing them for a younger customer and with grace over and above anything more obviously attention seeking in mind. In person too they eschew the glare of the spotlight preferring instead for all attention to be paid to the work.
With a certain discretion at play, then - and this is a rarity in a world where, broadly speaking, the bigger and brasher the image, the better - for the new season significantly more daywear was introduced into the mix.
Herringbone tweed day suits with tunic tops were moulded to stand away from the body with elegance more than overt sex appeal in mind. A camel cashmere coat and shift dress seemed minimal to the point of austere. Blink and you might miss the undulation at the seams.
Among this house's most time-honoured signatures is an impeccable treatment of lace and this time too it was perfect but bold also: blood red silk veins were over-embroidered onto old gold. There was nothing much sugar sweet about the motifs that appeared across increasingly ornate evening capes and gowns either. Darwinian insects, crustacea and flora all made an appearance but executed with an attention to detail that brought a Victorian encyclopedia to mind.
** This page will be updated with the catwalk shots as soon as they arrive **