With their beribboned, jeweled-toe champagne slingbacks sinking into a white velvet runway, the myriad creatures of Christian Lacroix's exceptional imagination advanced into winter. Hair dressed in lacquered rolls, black velvet roses, sprays of crystal, and spiked with a carnation, each model wore an outfit more painterly colorful and romantic than the last.

It's great to see Lacroix's luscious sensibility let loose; he's at the height of his powers. Supported by new management, the creative roll he's been on for some seasons has led him toward ever more beautiful refinements of the fabulous things that happen when he designs a coat to go over a dress.

In Lacroix's universe, the magic is that never the twain shall match. If the outerpiece is a stiffly voluminous damask, the underthing is shiveringly fragile lace; if the wrapping is a misty puff of gray organza, the dress is a shocking bolt of orange wool. Carmine velvet over raspberry chiffon, a slash of vermilion against leaf green—the play between Lacroix's shades always carries a jolt of beauty.

His show was a pure delight to watch—especially as it marked another step toward lightness and approachability in his style. His once hermetically operatic aesthetic has now melted into a softer kind of personal expression that registers trends—Empire lines, rococo and baroque touches—and contributes something exciting to the wider world of fashion.