Into each life a little eveningwear must fall. The problem is that too often, formal dress fits into one of three categories: boring black, prom-queen redux or dowager-dowdy. Design duo Badgley Mischka are none of the above. They've built a nice business—and a hefty celebrity following—making elegant formal clothes that satisfy the demands of the Park Avenue charity circuit as well as Hollywood's red-carpet gauntlet.

For Fall, Badgley Mischka did it again. In another of the small showroom shows so popular this season, they presented 44 options for evening, from simple (a black georgette dress ornamented with ribbons and black beads) to super-siren (a scarlet gown with a lace-lined plunging neckline). In a niche used to a piling on of glitz, they mostly showed admirable restraint, relying on body-hugging cuts, sheer fabrics and a few well-placed ruffles to communicate sex appeal. Hip girls will like the ivory and black-lace tiered cocktail dress; hip moms will dig a snappy little ivory ribbon cocktail suit. Halle Berry will snag the ivory velvet gown with red beading.