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Valentino's virginal belles wrap up Paris couture

A model presents a creation by Valentino during the Spring/Summer 2012 Haute Couture collection show, in Paris. (AFP)


Virginal beauties in ivory lace and embroidery, or silk adorned with 18th-century prints, Valentino brought the Paris haute couture shows for spring-summer to a bucolic close on Wednesday.

On the notes to the show, designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli described the spirit of their spring-summer collection as "intimate", "shy", "evanescent", "virginal".

Delicate, high embroidered collars flattered the face and neck, sleeves were long and fluid, waistlines gently cinched.

Little riding jackets and coats in creamy ivory - the dominant colour throughout - or archive-patterned silk fastened at the neck with a wide bow, over full ball gown skirts, or flattering A-lines that stopped at the knee.

The designers also noted the time spent on each virtuoso creation, providing, for the uninitiated, an eye-opening lesson in couture.

For the first dress, a full-length gown with smock details on its tall collar and puffed long sleeves, a thousand hours were spent hand-applying spirals of organza.

To create the outfits that followed - a bouffant blouse and floor-length skirt, and a string of knee-length dresses, in silk taffetas with 18th-century archive prints in pale blues and pinks - took up to 800 hours apiece.

Followed diaphanous blouses in organza and lace, over knee-length skirts, or a suit cut from lustrous ivory gazar with delicate dotted cut-outs running down the hems and seams, a bow at the neck of its jacket.

For evening, Valentino's belles slipped into ball gowns with sleeveless bodices or deeper necklines, in archive patterns or intricate floral patchwork.

And for the finale, crystal, gold thread, silver and pearls - or in one case 10,000 tiny tubes of silver-tinted glass - were embroidered onto high-collared long gowns, or blouses worn over tapered cream cigarette pants.