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The Paris Haute Couture shows are going on right now and one immediate thing came to mind when I saw the Valentino show it feels somewhat closed off. Yes it’s an elegant experiment with this overriding theme of walled off intricately detailed embroidered (and as Cathy Horyn of the New York Times put it) “curled ironwork”. Horyn is uncharacteristically forgiving to designers Pierpaolo Piccioli and Maria Grazia Chiuri (though she still managed recall their tumultuous beginning at the fashion house).

What is it about this collection that stirs the pot? It’s that obvious image of large foreboding gates that wall off something that might tempt. It’s not ethereal, it’s grounded in the present world. But there’s no telling if this is a statement or simply a design decision. With haute couture we’re always supposed to believe it’s the former and not the latter. Whatever it is, this closed-off, embroidered Valentino collection, is beautiful and shows what is looking like a design resurgence for the company.