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The pantsuit was one of the key trends for Fall/Winter 2017, with designers of all stripes reviving '90s-style power dressing in their shows. Mr. Valentino may better known for his gowns than his suits, but his haute couture collection for Autumn/Winter 1996/97 proved that he was a master of menswear-inspired tailoring, too. Supermodels such as Helena Christensen, Carla Bruni, Amber Valetta and Stella Tennant strutted down the runway wearing noirish skirt and trouser suits, in fabrics ranging from classic gray wool pinstripe to gold-toned brocade. Most of these looks seem absolutely au courant today, as the fashion industry flirts with gender fluid styles that mix, as Mr. Valentino did, traditionally masculine elements with feminine touches such as lace and frills.


That ahead-of-its-time gender play was echoed in the fantastic ad campaign for the collection, shot by Satoshi Saikusa and featuring models Carolyn Murphy, Astrid Munoz and Chandra North. The moody images put a decidedly butch accent on the Valentino style, making the point that the signature Valentino mix of sophistication, sexiness and gorgeous detailing and cut made for best-in-league power dressing ensembles, and that womanliness could be emphatically conveyed through a beautiful suit. Needless to say, however, the collection included more than a few fabulous dresses, too.  


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