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Valentino: Exercise in Elegance

February 10, 1989|TIMOTHY HAWKINS

NEW YORK — Valentino, the Roman "god" of fashion, may have the same name as the Hollywood film star of the 1920s, but the Italian designer romances his female audience with a lot more subtlety than his namesake did.

The designer's Boutique and Night collections for fall, 1989, were shown here this week, a month before Valentino's major fall ready-to-wear show in Europe.

His newest styles are about classic simplicity, tailoring with sportswear touches and a richness achieved through luxurious fabrics such as cashmere, silk, satin and lace, rather than frivolous frills.

The Boutique collection--basically daytime wear--uses the suit jacket as a staple, offered with both pants and slim skirts. Valentino shows most hemlines above the knee, although he includes some mid-calf styles in the group.

Jackets range from short boleros and blousons to classic, fitted, suit looks and casual cardigans; from peacoats to swing coats. His newest entry is a plaid jacket worn over a tailored wool dress with crisp white collar worn outside the jacket. Pants are cut both slim and full.

On the softer side, Valentino shows lots of those luxurious sweaters and sweater sets for which he is so famous, with the turtleneck style serving as a nice foil for tailored suits. Silk dresses feature his signature bow details.

Lots of checks, plaids and tweeds in neutrals or deep tones add to the aura of classic chic.

The Night collection of cocktail and evening wear also focuses on classic simplicity, with crisp bolero jackets over silk blouses and slim velvet skirts; embroidered jackets over velvet pants. A sweater set with an embroidered ermine-tail motif is also worn with pants. And a sensational tailored pantsuit, in black accented with crisp white satin collar and cuffs, looks as if it's destined to be a big hit with the designer's devotees.

Though Valentino included a few extravagantly elegant long, full looks in silk and lace, it is the slim, black, floor-length sheath with a bow-front, velvet bolero that looks most right in this no-frills, confident collection.

Both the Boutique and Night labels are at Neiman Marcus.

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