It was a breath of fresh air in Paris, as Valentino’s designer Pierpaolo Piccioli liberated himself of constraints on race, age and weight on Wednesday, January 26, to produce a joyful, inclusive and long-awaited moment of couture. Fashion prides itself on being able to predict trends and be ahead of the curve. So many industry watchers have been disappointed in recent years that European fashion houses – some of whom have been accused of Western-centrism and even racism – have seemed behind on issues of body positivity and diversity. For spring, Piccioli took one well-heeled step forward. “I have reflected on the body. The repetition of the house model proportion has always been the rhythm to follow and I thought it was time for a change,” Piccioli said. “Creativity, as life itself, is possible only in a non-homogenous environment.” 7 celebrities with siblings just as successful and stunning as they are And with that, the lauded Italian designer waded into a new realm: a fashion universe of clothes worn by individuals, regardless of skin colour, age, height or waist size. Couture, the age-old tradition of exorbitantly priced made-to-measure clothes , has always been governed by strict rules of body shapes, and traditionally modelled on predominantly white, European-looking models of a certain height and weight. In the storied Place Vendome, Piccioli finally broke down those rules. 7 things to know about Madonna’s daughter, Lourdes ‘Lola’ Leon Voluptuous beauties, over-60s, as well as male and female models of diverse racial backgrounds stepped out into the flashes of the camera sparkling in light, optimistic and playful couture designs. Some 32 of the 64 looks – precisely half – were modelled by non-white models. Some fashion observers saw it as an “about time too” kind of moment, including Long Nguyen, a prominent Asian-American fashion writer who says that he’s stopped attending Milan Fashion Week over perceptions of close-mindedness. “It’s a welcome change at Valentino to see age, body and race diversity into the couture orbit,” he said. “It’s a process that has taken way too long at luxury fashion houses.” He said there is “still far to go”. Channel House of Gucci’s Lady Gaga with these 5 dazzling jewellery pieces Last week, Kenzo unveiled the collection of its first Japanese designer since house founder Kenzo Takada. Nigo, 51, became only the second Asian designer at the head of a European high fashion label, alongside Bally’s Filipino-American Rhuigi Villaseñor. His appointment was seen as a milestone as the luxury industry wrestles more broadly with questions on race. Diversity was felt not only in Valentino’s choice of models, but in the fashions themselves. Valentino’s collection was entitled “the Anatomy of Couture”. Styles, often pared down and cut away from the body, were a study on the line between minimalism and exuberance. Snipping away was sometimes literal by Piccioli – like in holes down the sides of pants or vertical cut-outs down a lime tunic. It produced the best looks. A white column dress in viscose crepe had a sublime undulating cutaway at the chest to give it a playful, modernist vibe. A midnight blue chiffon cape that was sheer enough to expose the nipples and skin took the title of the show to the heart of its design. It felt archetypically couture. How Charlene Ree balances her business, Instagram – and being a mum Elsewhere, the simplicity was interrupted by flourishes of bows, whooshes of silk and flashes of bright colour. The house said 50 metres (165 feet) of cotton faille were hand-stitched by Valentino’s army of seamstresses to create one sky blue cape that was so voluminous it seemed to hover around the model like a smoky halo. Want more stories like this? Follow STYLE on Facebook , Instagram , YouTube and Twitter .