Valentino Lead

When in Rome, do as the Romans do. For designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli, they took that to heart for their Valentino Haute Couture fall 2015 show, taking the collection out of the Paris couture line-up and bringing it back to the brand's origins in Italy. The primary reason for the move was to celebrate the opening of Valentino's new flagship store nestled in Piazza Mignanelli, but it also served as a strong reminder of the brand's Roman heritage.

The designs were a gesture of that as well. Aptly titled Mirabilia Romae (roughly translated to mean "wonderful Rome"), the couture collection paid a sartorial tribute to the city of Rome, aka the Eternal City. Rome often serves as a source of inspiration in some form or another for the designers, but this time around, their approach was blatantly literal.

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Gladiator armor skirts inspired long pleated gowns cut from rich embroidered gold cloth, traditional togas lent themselves quite nicely to fluid one-shoulder designs in red and black, and the eagle (a defining symbol of ancient Rome) dominated as a motif with embroidered outlines and feathered dresses. And even though the collection largely consisted of black numbers, there wasn't a shortage of grandeur, with a few majestic gold numbers, crushed red velvet gowns, and star-spangled designs punctuating the line-up.

And to really home in the gladiator-ness of it all, each model was topped with gilded headpieces (or crowns) and black gladiator criss-cross sandals that wrapped all the way up to the knee. It was a show that not only exhibited the highest level of craftsmanship, but also a feeling of authenticity and meaning, which strongly resonated with the crowd. The show ended with a standing ovation.

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