Jumpsuits are having a moment, as fashion folk like to say. The all-in-one is the oh-so-modern alternative to a fancy dress—a way of saying, sure, I'm all dolled up, but make no mistake, I still wear the pants. But a full formal trouser look isn't a 21st century innovation. To wit, Mr. Valentino put his stamp on the concept all the way back in the sixties: His Haute Couture Spring/Summer 1966 collection an extraordinary zebra-striped ensemble comprised of a ring-collared crop top and ultra-wide, bow-belted palazzo pants. Now that's an outfit we'd like to see at the Emmy's or the Venice Film Festival in September. Ditto the red silk crepe pajama set made the same year.
Meanwhile, the Valentino fringed poncho and tiered white palazzos from the Haute Couture Spring/Summer 1968 collection is Oscar or Met Ball-worthy, if anything is. One of the all-time-iconic Valentino looks, it would be hard for anyone to top Veruschka's appearance in it: Franco Rubartelli's shot of Veruschka in the poncho and pants is a world-historical fashion image, one endlessly pinned to fashion pros' mood boards.
Mr. Valentino's "Tartar" collection for Haute Couture Fall/Winter 1970/71 gave the formal trouser concept a cold weather twist. A black chiffon blouse and heavily embroidered, slit velvet skirt topped a pair of short, georgette harem-style pants. As Irving Penn's photograph of the look for Vogue Paris attests, the ensemble exudes both polish and bohemian joie de vivre. Indeed, the magic of Mr. Valentino's fancy pants is that they always express a free-spirit sensibility. These are dressy looks for women with interested places to go, and interesting people to be.