As recently as February, Alber Elbaz was saying that "fashion should be a factory of dreams." Today at Lanvin's Resort show, he said, "Fashion is not about perfection, fashion is about life. It is a factory of needs." Like his designer peers, Elbaz faces keen time pressures. He remarked that he'd spent several days in Florence choosing fabrics before coming to New York, and that he was "already late" with his sketches for Spring. But if his pre-presentation spiel had lost any of its romance in the intervening months, his clothes did not. This was a spirited outing from Elbaz, rich with options, elegant and easy in equal measure, and, yes, entirely up to the task of fulfilling the often dueling needs the designer is confronted with.

Take the one he spoke of before the show: "We love black, but we need colors." Elbaz embraced both, featuring a brightly color-blocked silk shift dress and a peachy silk illusion neckline gown side-by-side with a sleeveless black "tux" and a black lace jumpsuit. Scarves wrapped languidly around the neck and, adorned with giant silk flowers, tied the disparate looks together. Another need: "A coat needs to be very warm but also very light." And so, Elbaz experimented with technical fabrics, but never at the expense of beauty. The black taffeta trench would've been fabulous even without the stretch that gave it its evocative, sculptural form. A white silk peasant top and long black peasant skirt, meanwhile, were proof positive that he hasn't entirely forgotten what he said back in February about dreams.

Lanvin is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year. Most of the jewelry today was scaled back—most of it, that is, save for a crystal-encrusted digital watch, the time of which is permanently set to 1:25. Elbaz is serious about business, but he's still one of fashion's readiest wits.