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Valentino designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli drew inspiration from “a cabinet of curiosities” for their Autumn-Winter Haute Couture* presentation in Paris this week. This theme included everything from coral branches to mythical creatures to Madonnas. The photographs above are some of the highlights from the spectacular runway show. Models resembled modern-day Renaissance royalty, wearing elaborate shell-patterned brocades, sumptuous silks and exquisite lacework with coral motif embroideries. The collection was ingeniously punctuated with classic separates that could easily be interpreted by the Couture client as elegant yet functional daywear.

I love the first photo of the black and navy sheer lace slip dress… Give me a perfectly engineered lingerie-inspired look with a mixture of whisper-delicate lace pattern and I’m on board! Also, the second photo of the golden guipure lace gown embroidered with interwoven branches of red and blue coral is just stunning. The bare shoulders and sections of transparency just above the chest keep this frock from looking too heavy and overworked. It’s rich and ornate, yet still light and youthful!

*What makes the Haute Couture presentations different from other fashion weeks? In France, the term “Haute Couture” is protected by law and is defined by the Chambre de commerce et d’industrie de Paris. This regulating commission determines which fashion houses are eligible to take part. A Couturier must have an atelier based in Paris and they must produce a minimum of 35 made-to-order looks of both daywear and evening wear, twice a year. Haute Couture designs are made from high-quality fabrics and sewn with extreme attention to detail by the most experienced seamstresses, often using time-consuming, hand-executed techniques. Pieces can require upwards of 800 hours of handwork – making each look truly a work of art!

Image credit: fashionising