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If summer is the season for diaphanous dressing?loose-fitting, lightweight clothes to beat the heat?fall is the time for tailoring

If summer is the season for diaphanous dressing—loose-fitting, lightweight clothes to beat the heat—fall is the time for tailoring. Suiting for women is a hot trend again, but really, has it ever gone out of vogue? A quick consult of Valentino archives proves that tailoring, in various proportions and forms, always makes a big fashion impact.


A suit needn't look mannish. (Though we'll always love Linda Evangelista wearing a Valentino power suit in that groundbreaking Peter Lindbergh shot.) As Gian Paolo Barbieri showed in his photo for Vogue Italia of model Simonetta Gianfelici wearing a wool and silk suit from the Haute Couture Spring/Summer 1983, it can conjure classic Hollywood—in this case, the unforgettable kiss on the runway in Casablanca. Some years earlier, Barbieri had given Valentino suiting more of a femme fatale spin, snapping Jerry Hall in a honey-colored skirt suit from HC Fall/Winter 1975/76 with sable-edging amid a mise en scène suggesting she's an expert in breaking the hearts of men. Two decades on, Max Vadukul gave cinematic suiting a more noirish spin, turning Eva Herzigova into an icy Hitchcock blond, clad in a fitted skirt suit of wool check from the Spring/Summer 1995 Ready-to-Wear collection.


And then there are the pantsuits. The nineties and early aughts were  a heyday for pantsuits, and Mr. Valentino put his own, glamorous stamp on the trend. The Fall 2000 Ready-to-Wear collection was a goldmine for pantsuit lovers, featuring ensembles for both day and night. Perhaps the glammest of the glam looks was a suit pairing bootcut pants and a short, fur-collared jacket, both done in rose gold-tone brocade.


Mr. Valentino would return to the suit for one of his final collection. Fall/Winter 2007 Ready-to-Wear was a paean to the suit, with standout versions in natty pinstripe, Yves Klein blue and signature Valentino red. There were long jackets and short ones; some boxy, some fitted; some playfully embellished and some unadorned, the better to let the excellent tailoring speak for itself. There are many kinds of suit, Mr. Valentino seemed to be saying, and many ways to wear them. Which is why, one way or another, they're always in style.


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