It was a playful "Send in the Clowns" message from Christian Lacroix, who presented his collection in the sawdust ring of a delightful early-19th-century circus. His setting, which included a towering tree of lightbulb garlands, had a certain whimsical charm, one that Lacroix apparently wanted to capture in the clothes.

True to his egalitarian philosophy, Lacroix deconstructed his various lines, mixing Jeans and Bazar pieces with his collection items. Thus, the show opened with his skinny-leg jeans—no ordinary jeans in this fashion genie's hands, of course—given the full couture works, either densely studded with gold and silver rivets or embellished with random artsy patches of bright-colored mink. With his slim pant, Lacroix showed garishly hued boxy mink jackets or tucked and pleated Victorian blouses, all with a high-rise shoulder line.

Then his clothes got really elaborate. In an eye-boggling palette of shrill neons and brights, foiled with black and white, Lacroix's multi-media pieces were a riot of appliqués, embroideries, color-block prints and patchworks. In their febrile eccentricity, they seemed to owe a debt to the performance art clothing of the late Leigh Bowery, star of the '80s London club scene. While exhilarating at times, Lacroix's ceaselessly inventive touches could prove exhausting at others; his profligate way with the ingredients made some of the dishes indigestible.