Valentino's a truly divine collection of flowing column gowns played deftly on classical references.

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Highlights from Wednesday’s spring-summer 2016 couture collections in Paris.

Valentino designers Pierpaolo Piccioli and Maria Grazia Chiuri described their collection as an “airy and vertical” approach to couture.

Yet this description missed so much. It was a truly divine collection of flowing column gowns that played deftly on classical references.

Inspired by 1900s fashion designer Mariano Fortuny, the designs mixed up fluid Greco-Roman silhouettes with those of more embellished Eastern Byzantine.

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A loose, white velvet dress sported gentle gold handmade impressions and a twisted Grecian knot down one arm. Other crepe gowns evoked a tunic silhouette.

They contrasted gently with “eastern” looks, such as a powder rose tulle dress with high collar and arabesque appliques that were lifted with a stylish vermillion band across the bottom.

No assessment of a Valentino collection would be fair without mention of the elderly “petites mains” (seamstresses) that are the motors behind this astonishing couture. Many of the dresses in the 66-piece-show took over 1,800 hours to make.