A model in a black wrapped coat, violet shell, and teal pants, with a navy crocodile purse clutched in one hand, made a reasonable enough opening for Roberto Menichetti's second Celine collection. In a retreat from the perplexing debut he presented for spring, fall veered toward uncontroversial, middle-range clothes, and offered an uninterrupted view of the house's latest handbags.

Indeed, enameled chain-link shoulder bags and squared-off crocodile doctor bags embellished with tiny buckled luggage straps often seemed to take precedence over the clothes. Maybe, though, that was the point. Michael Kors, the previous designer at the house, brought a degree of sporty internationalism to the label. But Celine was once a bastion of bourgeois fashion refusal, and finding a credible way to go forward presents a dilemma.

Menichetti is not the dramatic type to reshape a house in his own image. So he compromised by sending out a polite take on stripped-down conservative dressing: suits and coats with dyed-fox collars, gored A-line skirts, flared jersey dresses, and little embellished knits. Staying with the safe and predictable, he elongated many of the same shapes for evening. This sort of luxe simplicity is difficult to carry off convincingly. For one thing, it requires perfect pitch in color, which Menichetti's jarring contrasts of orange, purple, teal, fuchsia, and black failed to achieve.