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The Wild Things Came Out at Valentino Couture Spring 2014

Lions, swans, snakes and peacocks, oh my!
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The Atmosphere: Hand-painted images of roaming tigers, birds of paradise and butterflies of all shapes and sizes lined the walkways between the rows of chairs at the Hotel Salomon de Rothschild for Valentino's couture collection. At one end of the room, there was even a mural depicting a green forest with two parrots perched atop a large tree branch. In the crowd, Florence Welch was comfortably settled on the circular seating, wearing an olive wool coat adorned with a colorful butterfly (hmm, there seems to be a nature theme here), while French actor and face of Valentino Uomo men’s fragrance, Louis Garrel, looked handsome in a single-breasted navy suit. Meanwhile, Clotilde Courau, Princess of Venice and Piedmont, had on an embroidered pink and white tulle short dress with matching hot pink heels. The Clothes: Designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli explored a dreamlike world, one that most notably included an ode to the animal kingdom and all the wild creatures featured in The Lion King. One such a lion, along with other majestic animals, graced a gray cashmere coat that took over 300 hours to finish by hand. Other marvels included the "Cio-Cio San" (that would be Madame Butterfly) cape, adorned with multicolored versions of the fluttery things made of dyed feathers (55 hours of handwork went into that one). But if you weren't in the mood for animal motifs, there was still plenty to choose from, like an olive crepe dress inspired by Didon et Enée, the opera by Henry Purcell, or the mahogany silk crepe short-sleeved number, based on a work by Claude Debussy. The Takeaway: In the four years since they presented their debut couture collection, Chiuri and Piccioli have truly fine-tuned their knowledge and have learned to push their atelier to the limit. At this particular show, the opera-based narrative and composition of the clothes worked in unison, providing a sort of sartorial lyricism.

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Long Nguyen is the co-founder and style director of Flaunt.

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Photos: Imaxtree