Sugar and spice and all things nice: Giambattista Valli’s couture show was inspired by the rambling flowers of a British garden.

Before delving into his spring palette, he opened with a sequence of black-and-white outfits that toyed with transparency effects. A sheer black minidress, for instance, was strategically embroidered with black fabric peonies and two butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-her-mouth white satin bows.

His cocktail dresses were styled with black vinyl over-the-knee boots that kept them from straying into cutesy. The evening gowns similarly played with contrasts: pastoral asymmetric bustier dresses paired with ballet slippers versus floor-sweeping gowns in acres of silk chiffon.

Sweeping the ground in rippling folds, some of them looked as if the fabric had been simply draped and knotted into place. Effortless as they appeared, these goddess gowns — some trimmed with bands of crystals — required up to 50 yards of fabric apiece.

“This is, I think, the modernity in haute couture: It’s getting really the best of the atelier and to modernize them — not to have the heaviness, but to keep the lightness, almost like you did it the night before,” Valli explained backstage after the show.

“I don’t work for museums, I don’t work for archives — I really work to dress real women,” he added.

That didn’t prevent him from letting rip with his signature showstoppers for the finale. A lime green number with a never-ending train was made of 400 yards of pleated tulle, though even that didn’t seem like much of a drag. The model who wore it darted back up the steps to return backstage.

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