The mood at Valentino’s AW18 show was pure romance. The show’s setting might not have the most romantic origins — the Hôtel de Rothschild, a 19th-century palace and Napoleon Bonaparte’s resting place — but the transformation of the space into a plant-filled conservatory heated to a jungle-ish warmth created a mood.

When asked backstage what the inspiration for his latest collection was, Pierpaolo Piccioli answered, “Romanticism.” He continued on to say, “It’s a strength today if you are able to be assertive but not aggressive.” Many designers this season have opted for a commanding, square-shouldered version of feminine power, fitting in the middle of the #MeToo movement. But Piccioli found the romance in strength, and the grace of the collection was lovely.

Two-toned palettes were favored, and there were blazers worn over trousers and lots of long dresses and heavy knits. Color unfolded slowly throughout the show, starting with pink and gold and (my personal favorite) using a dark rose in a hue that felt like a kiss. Bjork’s Bachelorette gave the show a feeling of drama and anticipation. The show was breathtaking in a way that felt timeless but still thrilling.

Romance is a notion that feels hard to interpret in a world increasingly literal and mechanized. The nuance and beauty that romance relies on feels unfitting of 2018 and social media and sterile minimalism. Valentino taught us what romance can look like today, and it feels good.

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