PARIS — Haute couture, fashion's most luxurious appellation, can only ever come from Paris.
One thing couture week's third and final day proved, however, is that despite these geographical limits, Paris punches high above its weight creatively, attracting designers the world over and evoking every culture under the sun.
Italian house Valentino flew in its small army of artisan seamstresses to Paris for their spring-summer 2013 show Wednesday, which had guests awestruck in its glistening Renaissance-style embroideries and delicate lace.
Chinese-French Yiqing Yin put on a decorative, constructed display channeling Russian architect Naum Gabo.
Lebanese designer Elie Saab put on a typically fairy tale-like collection with 19th century crinolines. Meanwhile, couture's enfant terrible Jean Paul Gaultier traveled to Rajasthan to produce a gypsy-infused homage to India.
Such cultural infusions are all part and parcel of the famed artisan-based method of making clothes that dates back over a century.
Delicacy, nature, architecture and timeless, effortless beauty.
Those words describe one of the most sumptuous displays seen this season — courtesy of Valentino.
Designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli, and their indefatigable Italian seamstresses, surpassed even themselves Wednesday perfecting the delicate Valentino silhouette by subtly softening it and exposing more of the neck. The designers said they were inspired by a garden.
A garden gate was evoked in the first gown, in tulle, with soft swirls of red piping. It appeared simple, but was achieved with 220 meters of silk around fibers of wool.
And there were beautiful plays in dimension — such as a dress in magnolia wool and crepe, hung with a curved square bottom. It captured the voluminous, yet flat dimension of a Renaissance painting.