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Valentino conjures up couture magic in Paris

January 24, 2013
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"We like to make magic", said Pierpaolo Piccioli backstage at the Valentino show on Wednesday evening. And along with the other half of the Italian brand's creative duo Maria Grazia Chiuri, he managed just that. A jam-packed audience that included A-lister Livia Firth were treated to a stunning display of impeccably crafted garments on Wednesday evening as the famous fashion house unveiled its latest wares at Haute Couture Week in the City of Light.

Sparkling crystal and intricate embroidery were subtly woven in to luxurious layers of tulle and chiffon in a sumptuous collection that managed to encompass delicacy, nature, architecture and timeless, effortless beauty. The designers said they were inspired by a garden, which was evoked in a floral-embroidered swing dress that model of the moment Cara Delevingne wore as she glided down the runway. The theme also came through in a pastel green one shoulder dress adorned with delicate little flowers. Casting a discerning eye over the stunning pieces from the front row, Colin's wife Livia was the picture of elegance in a black coat and black top. She paired the sombre pieces with a fire-engine red skirt that added a splash of colour to the ensemble.

And with awards season in full swing, Livia is busier than ever, getting celebrities to take part in her Green Carpet Challenge. She admitted that it would be difficult to top last year's Oscar moment, where Meryl Streep accepted her statue for best actress in a Lanvin gown made from sustainably produced fabric. But Livia is far from giving up, telling a reporter backstage at the show: "I always say that I dream one day of having the whole Oscar red carpet [wearing] only Green Carpet Challenge [dresses] and to point the finger at the people who are not wearing it." Meanwhile, fashion's eternal enfant terrible, Jean Paul Gaultier, shocked his audience when he sent out a model bride with overblown skirts that lifted to give birth to four children who then ran off down the runway giggling.

 The controversial finale aside, the show-goers were treated to a colour explosion from the French fashion house. While most couturiers are wary of experimenting with colour when designing haute couture, the fashion maestro had been brave enough to send out multicoloured patchwork trousers, bright green belts and orange jackets. But more wearable confections were offered up in the form of edgy evening dresses in shades of black, white and sequin silver, while he made sure to explore the trend of the moment – monochrome stripes – with black and white striped dresses.

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