'The collection is a journey amidst elements borrowed from imaginary ethnic groups,' stated the show notes at Valentino. 'Subtle almost imperceptible references are blended in a vertical silhouette with a sleek sense of regality.'
Regal was the right word. In a season where the rumour mill has been turning and the big brands have gone head to head to produce ever more spectacular shows, this was a moment of elegance and serenity, not least attributable to the most beautiful clothes.
Since they took over at Valentino, creative directors Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli have carved a niche for themselves as behind the scenes designers who talk to the press and make public appearances only rarely but whose technical skills and vision of modern femininity are second to none.
This time around, the folkloric influences that have been seen elsewhere in Paris were woven and embroidered across everything from small but perfect prim lace dresses to the narrow torsoed, full-skirted but never frilly ballgowns that are a signature by now. They came in a rich colour palette: terracotta, forest green, bright turquoise and old gold. Some of these were worn with embroidered jackets only adding to the opulent effect.
It is not just surface embellishment at which these designers excel. A slender, emerald green silk column was nothing short of perfection in its proportions. More relaxed, meanwhile - though still utterly chic - were wide-legged trousers with a single oversized tier at the hem - these looked great in denim - paired with tunic tops.
The austerity of last season's collection was in evidence this time also. Necklines were high, arms were covered with narrow sleeves. There was an emotional power from start to finish nonetheless: a lesson in dignity and grace.
Images: Jason Lloyd Evans