PARIS--There was a lot to love about Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli's spring collection for Valentino: 1) gorgeous red-carpet-worthy lace and sheer gowns, in the usual palette of Valentino-red, black and beige, livened up with floral embroidery done in Jil Sander spring 2011-esque fluorescents; 2) the signature ruffles were there but there was also a fresh new strapless tent silhouette that fell straight away from the body; 3) they made eveningwear look good with flats; 4) there was air conditioning (wha happened, Lanvin?).
Jessica Biel and Ciara were among the celebrities in the front row--neither of whom we'd peg as fashion-y Valentino girls (where was Keira Knightley?)--but they'd both earn spots on glossy best dressed lists if they wore these dresses.
In their line sheets, Chiuri and Piccioli said the collection was about optimism, joy and dreams--all things we could use desperately right now. A bunch of pretty dresses might not make us forget that world economies are collapsing and that more and more young people are taking to Wall St. to voice their frustrations about the disparity of wealth in this country--but a few minutes of beautiful distraction? OK.