With at least one notable exception, Valentino’s accessories aesthetic has looked just a wee bit gassed lately. In most ways, it seems as though the brand has mined the incredible intricacy of roses and ruffles to their logical ends, and it might be time to figure out what step should be taken next. And no, it’s not studs, in case the person at Valentino who conceived the brand’s Spring 2011 accessories might be reading this.

The Valentino Nymphe Garden Tote makes me think that at least one person at the brand might have the answer, though. In the face of notoriously tight-fisted construction and the apparent desire to pack as many details into one bag as humanly possible, it’s nice to see the designers go with an entirely different variation on the flower theme. Instead of tightly wound silk roses, this bag has a lightness and airiness to it that Valentino should consider incorporating into more of its accessories.

The problem with doing roses and ruffles in a seriously bountiful way is that the finished project can look heavy and bogged down very quickly if the right fabric and finishing aren’t used. The novelty of Valentino’s ultrafeminine bags has excused some of the brand’s sins in the past, but now that they’ve made that rose tote (and by “that rose tote,” I mean “every single permutation of a flower bag that could ever or should ever be made”) in more or less every color that I can think of, novelty is no longer on Valentino’s side.

Somehow, though, this bag gets it right where some of the brand’s recent efforts have gone wrong. Instead of dotting the tote’s exterior with literal flowers, the bag is instead covered with daintily dyed, delicate, light-as-a-feather petals that eventually dim to blackness at the design’s base. This end result still has the abundance and luxury of Valentino flowers, but the less literal, more interesting technique that this bag features avoids joylessness of some of its recent designs and hopefully indicates where the brand is headed. And if someone could knock that obnoxious bow off the strap, that would be great. Buy through Saks for $2995.

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