The 26 looks that Balenciaga designer Nicolas Ghesquière showed here today at the Gagosian Gallery will be more scrutinized than Enron's balance sheet. That's because Ghesquière has become one of fashion's magnate designers, able to change the look of a season with one outfit. Moving his Fall show to New York from Paris added a significant jolt to fashion week, increased by the fact that getting one of the 200 tickets was well-nigh impossible.

But well worth the effort. In front of an audience that included both fashion maven Sarah Jessica Parker and Domenico de Sole, president and CEO of Balenciaga parent Gucci Group, Ghesquière breezed confidently through a collection that was inventive, original—and commercially viable. The all-black opening was tough-girl chic: variations on the motorcycle jacket, with exaggerated knit collars and worn with skintight pants or tight, flippy skirts. He showed soft, oversized sweaters and jackets, and a small group of colorful knee-length collage dresses apparently influenced by Cubist paintings. Ghesquière helped usher in fashion's current love of artisan craft, and the dramatic, shaggy ivory coats that closed the show could double as soft sculpture.

While some designers struggle to express one theme per season, Ghesquière's dilemma seems to be how to control his bountiful creative flow.