PARIS - Is life just a dream? It certainly seemed to be in the diaphanous, nearly all-white and haunting spring-summer collection from Valentino on Wednesday that ended Paris' haute couture week.

Models in sparkling lace choker collars and long smocked taffeta dresses appeared like ghosts, floating through the show's neoclassical venue.

For fans of couture, Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli's creations were an instant hit. But they weren't the real stars of the show.

The program notes ensured that the "petites mains" — the old Italian seamstresses, many of whom have been with the house for decades — were credited.

One strapless gown with embroidered beads and adornments, it read, took 850 hours to make. Another 1,200 hours. Even without that detail, it didn't fail to astonish revellers as it swept past with its long train.

A full dress in soft-white invisible tulle was perfected with small lace gloves that wrapped around just two fingers.

The show's only downside was its dependence on white — something that was broken up in the last spring-summer collection with flashes of scarlet.

"Yes, there is no red, and it was a complete accident," said Chiuri in a strong Italian accent. "I woke up this morning and realized: Oh, dear, I forgot the red!"

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