The program notes for the Fall 2013 Valentino couture show promised  “Enchanting, encyclopedic couture”.

Let’s start with the big surprise of the evening, a few looks into the show.  Sheaths with 50’s style hemlines in quiet menswear fabrics like Scottish herringbones and greyed out tweeds. But these looks require a double take while they enchant you with opposing feminine silks printed with ornate scrolling designs and lions heads, layered over the most delicate laces.

Proving that couture can be for day, with looks like the cape dress in grey double face cashmere and elegant rounded shoulders.

The subdued day couture was bookended with the looks that Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli have become synonymous for. Once again referencing religious dress of the Renaissance, the ornate handwork in some of the gowns took over 1000 hours to create museum quality pieces such as the hand beaded ivory column dress stitched with thousands of pearls.

The opening look of the collection was “A Cabinet of Curiosities” with a couture collage of golden guipure lace framing an eclectic collection of prints like a curious rhinoceros and coral scroll on a long column dress.

The models glided down the stage in mysterious masterpieces , as if they were walking Renaissance portraits.

The color palette of camels, browns, greys and blacks prevailed with the occasional accent of red in a coral scroll and yellow anise silk velvet for enchanted winter couture.

I was left with the striking feeling of true couture, and knowing that some of the pieces shown will  continue to be referenced in the decades to follow.  This is the beginning of a return to women’s tailoring for day as a fashion statement, reminding me of the Valentino of days gone by.

Scroll down to take  a closer look at some of the creations with photos shot backstage by guest photographer Giacomo Cabrini.

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