Is couture becoming wearable? Once reserved for the most formal occasions, the goods displayed through this week's couture shows in Paris have looked far more casual than those we've seen in seasons' past. Both Dior and Atelier Versace kept ornamentation — a tenet of the typically dramatic couture category — to a minimum, while Vetements collaborated with decidedly un-fancy brands like Levi's, Champion and Juicy Couture. That the Fédération Française de la Couture even permitted Vetements to show as a guest member is a true testament to the changing tune of the industry; it shouldn't be difficult to believe that consumers want to be able to wear the clothes they're seeing on the runways — even if those pieces are, technically, crafted for the red carpet.
Valentino's fall 2016 couture show, held on Wednesday evening in Paris, was no different. Designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli incorporated a series of otherwise informal elements alongside the romantic silhouettes that have become so native to the brand under their tenure. Each of the collection's 61 looks came paired with riding boots; in fact, pants comprised a notable percentage of the collection, mingling alongside brocade capes and airy gowns.
But Chiuri and Piccioli love a theme, and despite dabbling with more wearable silhouettes, this season's motif was incredibly well executed. The fall 2016 couture runway traveled back to Shakespearean times, loading the catwalk with pearl-embellished bodices, architectural puffed sleeves and a bevy of (presumably detachable) Elizabethan ruffs. This was only accentuated by the soundtrack: the thumping Sergei Prokofiev-penned theme from "Romeo and Juliet." And with a moody color palette, each look felt both relevant and historical, a tribute to the power of behind-the-scenes styling.
With Chiuri confirmed to leave Valentino and rumored to fill Raf Simons's shoes at Dior, this collection was an excellent one on which to go out.
Click through the gallery below for all 61 looks from Valentino's fall 2016 couture show.