Valentino, Balenciaga and Chanel Make the Case for Couture

Valentino and Balenciaga make the case that sometimes the most spectacular clothes are the hardest to recognize — and replicate. Chanel takes it easy.

At around peak rush hour on the penultimate day of the couture shows a line of black cars snaked out of Paris, past grassy fields and factories 30 miles north to the 16th-century Château de Chantilly. Guests in brightly colored plumage were disgorged to teeter down a long stone walkway that opened to a vista of reflecting pools and manicured lawns set around a central fountain surrounded by a labyrinth of benches. That was where, as golden hour set in, a magic Valentino show began —

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