I was at Nicholas Hoare a few weeks ago and went on a mad book shopping spree; I ended up buying more than $400 worth of books. Most of them were Christmas presents but I picked up a couple for myself. One is this gorgeous hardcover coffee table book called Valentino: Themes and Variations. It lists the designer's most beautiful looks from all the way back to the 60s, to his last collection in 2007. I thought the photos were so beautiful that I had to share them here. Since most people aren't able to see haute couture in real life, this book makes us feel as if we are with the garments. You can see all the beautiful details that make up the dresses and appreciate all the hard work and endless hours that went into making them. There isn't that much text; Valentino writes a short introduction and there is a biography of him at the back of the book, followed by photos of the designer's numerous campaigns. But it's basically a catalogue of his most beautiful and famous dresses. There are some great backstage shots with models like Natalia Vodianova and Sasha P as well as shots of seamstresses putting together the clothes. Some sketches of the dresses and the finished products are shown side-by-side. It's a beautiful book for anyone who loves Valentino or for anyone who appreciates haute couture.