The expectation with Elie Saab is always that there will be beautiful lace and embroidery. On both counts, the designer did not disappoint with his pre-fall collection. But it was a surprise and pleasure to see how the workmanship that goes into those materials could be applied to cashmere and fur. The former, for instance, played a starring role in a jacket-cape hybrid. Double-faced instead of lined, the cashmere formed softly around the torso, opening from the shoulders into a sleeveless, swingy back. That same controlled trapeze shape reappeared in a suit jacket contoured with satin and zippers, as well as a lace and organza tunic in ultramarine. Though this silhouette is conducive to a spectrum of figures, the fit-and-flare remains Saab's standby. As a modest evolution, dresses were shown in a new perforated, ribbed fabric cut in body-contouring panels that left a more precise effect than lace. More important, it strikes the right amount of red-carpet sizzle to ensure its use beyond one-season wonder.

Meanwhile Saab seemed to figure that pre-fall was an opportunity to push further into the accessories market. His heels adopted the same contouring as his dresses, and it goes without saying that the bags—available in metallic-finish exotic skins—are not season-specific. The roomy, tissue-box-size clutch solves the problem of what to carry when wearing the coat-cape. All told, this was a thoughtful collection—even if it never once deviated from Saab's feminine ideal.