PARIS (AP) — Valentino put its typical Italian aristocratic look on hold this season to channel Balkan-style ethnic patterns in its spring-summer 2014 preview show.

It was clear from the discordant musical mix in Paris — which flitted between arias from Bellini's Norma and Puccini's Tosca to syncopated contemporary bass beats — that designers Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli were determined to try something new.

"Opera blends with the street," the program notes said.

With a clean white shirt and a couple of pairs of shorts, it felt like the designers were trying to loosen up their silhouette a bit Tuesday to show some street cred. A rather incongruous series in leopard print lost this message, however.

The show was dominated by patterns such as vivid blue-and-yellow lines and oval shapes — which the designers say were "borrowed from imaginary ethnic groups" — on full skirts with Eastern decorative patterns in browns and greens.

It meant that the austere feel of their previous ready-to-wear collections remained in Tuesday's show, heightened by the silhouettes' high necks and thick fabrics.

What the collection did reveal is that Valentino is, at its heart, a couture house.

There were some great looks that benefited from their unique savoir-faire, such as an embellished black jacket and a long black dress with a full skirt that featured beautiful multicolored patterns and embroideries.


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