02/13/2012 11:15 EST | Updated 04/14/2012 05:12 EDT

Valvo plays on pythons, film noir shadows in evening sheaths at NY Fashion Week

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Carmen Marc Valvo's runway wended through an atrium above Times Square like the python that inspired his couture cocktail dresses and evening gowns, some of which he hopes will land on red carpets.

Playing on the light and shadow of film noir, Valvo honoured Lauren Bacall in his fall collection with a palette of ivory, black, camel and deep reds and browns.

He used illusion effects, sheaths sparkling in sequins and insets in a suede python print on waists, chests and backs.

What does he like best about Bacall? "Her uncomplicated sense of glamour and sophistication. It's a collection that has a lot of polish. It's very clean-lined, but it's not at all retro. It's very modern."

Valvo has dressed everybody from Beyonce to Claire Danes. He included some looks he hopes will land on red carpets this year: a four-ply silk crepe illusion gown in ruby and another of the same style in a lively moss.

For another favourite, Valvo designed a pattern of a python out of small double-face wool pieces sewn onto netting. He placed his snake over a silk sheath underlay in champagne. The process, also used for a cocktail dress, is painstaking.

"We did a lot of fabric splicing this time. For the double-face wool, you have to cut it with a razor and sew it back," he said.

Valvo also went full-on fur in an ombre mink patchwork coat in a light camel with a darker back and in wide mink stoles wrapped simply around the necks of models. He used shaggy black goat fur on the sleeves of a jacket and feathered fox in oatmeal for a sumptuous vest.

He considers his core customer for his couture line an older lady of means who "has a sense of herself" and shops at Neiman Marcus, Saks and Bergdorf. He appealed to her in a belted ivory coat with simple lines, a similar cut in camel and a cashmere cocktail dress in moss with straight, tight sleeves just above the elbow.

"But I dress people from 20 to 80. It's really just an attitude," Valvo said. "Today's dressing is all about attitude."

Mogul Russell Simmons attended the show, which — unusually enough — had nothing BUT a front row as it curved in a single line along the second floor of the Nasdaq building in the heart of Times Square.


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