Valentino One-of-a-Kind Satchel, $2895 and $1995 via Neiman Marcus

Much has been made by me (not to mention the fashion press at large) over Valentino trying to find its path after the retirement of its namesake and longtime leader. The design team put in place since the transition has made some wonderful pieces, but is also responsible for its share of missteps, many of which we’ve discussed in this space.

I’ve heaped a good bit of criticism onto Valentino and its design duo of Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli in the past, and I’m not the only person in the industry who has some questions about the direction of the brand and the aesthetic merit of the pieces it’s turning out.

The Valentino Va Va Voom Crocodile Shoulder Bag, $11,275 via Net-a-Porter

If fashion seasons were like the Olympics, you could call Fall 2011 the Exotic Games – everywhere you look, brands are coming out with crocodile and snakeskin bags, seemingly each a little more drool-worthy than the last.

Valentino plies its floral, verdant trade year-round, but its spring bags are always the most fun, not to mention the most season-appropriate. Really, the only month out of the year where I’m so excited for warm weather that I’d consider carrying a bag that’s literally covered in flowers is April, which makes today the Valentino Fany Woven Flower Tote‘s lucky day.

If brevity is the soul of wit, what’s the soul of fashion? I like maximalism as much as anyone (in fact, probably far more than most people), but the grandiosity of it can feel exhausting from time to time. The trends toward layering textures, colors and prints are some of my favorite fads in years, but that doesn’t mean I can’t look at the Valentino Satin Bow Box Clutch and think that it seems positively refreshing by comparison.

Take your pick of an accented shoulder strap bag from Tory Burch or Valentino.

In case you haven’t noticed (but I bet you have, we’re blessed with smart readers), python is sort of a thing for Fall 2011. It’s almost staggering how many accessories designers managed to have the exact same thought at the exact same time, and the powers that be at Valentino absolutely got the memo.

Fill in the blank in the comments below: The Valentino Napa Straw-Flower Duffel is _______.

When Valentino first introduced us to its line of studded ladylike bags at the Spring 2011 shows back in September, I was…hesitant, to say the least. In the intervening months, I’ve remained hesitant, but the Valentino Rock Stud Top Handle has become the first of Valentino’s Spring 2011 bags to gain my approval.

I’ve never planned a wedding, but as I understand it, the process seems to turn many mild-mannered women into raging, clawing, howling Bridezillas. The ones who don’t morph, Hulk-like, into wedding monsters have nervous breakdowns. And as someone’s who’s rather detail-averse (as opposed to being detail-oriented, which is what it says on my resumé.