The Valentino creative directors Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli said of their haute couture collection that it was 'a fantastic journey'. The set was specially commissioned and executed in partnership with the Rome Opera House, depicting everything from garden flowers to cloudy skies.
Inspiration came from nature then - from the ever more complex nature of femininity - and from the world more broadly. At times this seemed fragile and ephemeral - a swarm of butterflies alighting on a cape - at others fierce, if always with lightness at play - lions, snakes and even gorillas appearing as intarsia on coats.
The cross cultural referencing prevalent in the designers' spring ready-to-wear collection, shown in Paris last October, also played a part. Fringed jute dresses (haute/humble), knotted feathers and robust African scenes lent an exoticism to the proceedings without ever seeming cliched.
The collection played off the apparently simple, even austere, against the magnificently ornamental too. Oversized coats and dresses in earthy shades looked almost seamless such was their lack of embellishment. They rubbed shoulders with the most elaborate black gown densely covered with inky silk flowers.
The hand painted catwalk and mood board [Valentino]
Since Valentino retired in 2008 these two designers have developed a new aesthetic for the house they preside over. It is both respectful of the label's heritage and entirely contemporary; immediately identifiable and just as desirable to women of a certain age as it is to their daughters. And that is no mean feat.
'The woman is always at the centre,' read the show notes. 'She is a multi-faceted and elusive figure dressed in ever-changing guises...' She is also quite possibly in possession of quite the finest wardrobe money can buy.