Christian Lacroix returned to a real runway show this season after taking a 2-year hiatus, and looking at the clothes, it felt as if he'd never been away. Lacroix marches to his own drum, which means that there have been moments when he was been out of step with the rest of the fashion world (during the minimalism of the late nineties, for example). These days, of course, color and ornamentation have become the look du jour; so it should, by rights, be a Lacroix moment.

If only it were that simple. It's not hard to expect that Lacroix's break from shows, plus his success at Pucci, might have pushed him forward a bit. Yet it felt that things hadn't quite gotten up to speed. He's still just as assured in matters of decoration and color, and his silhouette was much less complicated than in the past. What worked was a plaid trench and blouson, a slim metallic floral coat, and, for evening, an Edwardian-looking lace blouse and floor-sweeping ruffled skirt. But his approach to putting all this together could get a little fussy and overwrought. Sure, odd-looking huge floral corsages are obviously meant just for runway wear, but they still detract from the clothes underneath.

If Lacroix needs a fresh direction, he could perhaps take a lesson from his own menswear. The few pieces he showed (it's a new venture for him) had all his characteristic richness—the claret velvet blazer with pink-and-khaki-checked tweed trousers or the gray tweed coat worn over a baby-blue hoodie—but worn with a beautifully modern, casual ease.