06/26/2013 03:24 EDT | Updated 08/26/2013 05:12 EDT

Valentino slowly finds feet in menswear at uniform-themed Paris show

PARIS - "True style has no rules," designer Maria Grazia Chiuri said of the spring-summer 2014 collection for Valentino - only the second menswear outing in Paris for the storied Italian house.

The show, with a uniform theme, was more coherent than last season - and felt as if Chiuri and her design partner Pier Paolo Piccioli were finding their feet in this new territory for Valentino, a label that's known principally for its womenswear.

The idea of "no rules" played out in the 47 looks - mostly to good effect - where uniform was broken up and subverted.

The show's opener was the most successful example of this, with the uniformity of the bread-and-butter sharply tailored suits broken up with contrasting bands of blue dye. Elsewhere, pockets, martingales, panels and collars were given textural and colour contrasts on ensembles with military, mechanic and school uniform styles.

(This sort of paneling is becoming something of a recurrent theme in Valentino's nascent menswear vocabulary.)

However, in some of the military-inspired looks, a dalliance with camouflage didn't feel very fresh, and a series of dazzling coats and suits in ultramarine look like they'd be hard to wear.

Still, Valentino was one of Wednesday's hottest menswear tickets, shown by the roll call of celebrities such as Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or winner Adele Exarchopoulos who lined the front row.


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