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Zoolander stunt rocks Valentino catwalk, but strong collection stands on its own merits

We all knew the Valentino show would steal the headlines but nobody knew quite how much. When Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson suddenly appeared on the runway to announce their Zoolander 2 movie, the usually fairly sanguine audience erupted.

Perhaps it wasn’t such a shock – after all Valentino himself had a cameo in The Devil Wears Prada and the label has had a longstanding close relationship with Hollywood.

But comedy strutting aside, was the show itself newsworthy? You bet. Designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli have made Valentino one of the most influential labels in town over recent seasons with their particularl brand of commercial and direction femininity and their assured pattern and colour play.

So it came as some surprise to see a collection dominated by black and white and black on black. Yes there was colour and yes there was the feminine pattern we’ve come to expect from the label, but the overriding message was monochrome.

We got modernist op art on retro-influenced silhouettes, a touch of the East, and plenty of very commercial key items.

Come September, Valentino’s customers (and the shoppers in stores influenced by the label) will fall for the simple black and white striped dresses, the white Aran sweaters with a giant splash of black, the nun-like bib front dresses and tops, the wide trousers, patched furs, multicolour lace dresses, the luxe fringing and the contrast of solid with sheer.

Plus there were enough red carpet dresses to set Hollywood’s pulse beating, even without the pouting presence of Stiller and Wilson to close the show.

Did Valentino need the publicity? Certainly not. But it was definitely the most fun show of the season.

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