Following a golden blockbuster of a season is a tough challenge for any designer to face. Being sandwiched between two other major shows on the same day—the tense Olympic sprint to the end of an outstanding Paris season—put Alber Elbaz in an even more competitive spot for fall. So where did he place? Well, considerably handicapped by the lack of top models (most were prebooked by Louis Vuitton and YSL), and showing in spartan conditions, Lanvin took the silver.

He did extraordinary coats, starting with an orange textured velvet in his familiar full-skirt look, and introduced new shapes in stricter black, including a knife-narrow version of his now classic taffeta raincoat. A sexily shaped jacket that appeared as part of black pencil skirt suit, and then in a gorgeous white panne velvet, will inspire women on the hunt for fall chic. As for Elbaz's best-selling dresses, there were plenty, ranging from a newly sober high-neck, long-sleeve black velvet number to more familiarly dainty styles in layered chiffons and plissé tulle, as well as high-waist ballerina dresses.

Each of those pieces explains why Elbaz belongs to a superelite of fashion frontrunners who are leaving most other collections in the distance. But this was a presentation that, while giving an airing of all the things women love about Lanvin, somehow didn't quite clinch the drama of a top-rated show. The demerits were some oddly judged styling devices (pale ballet slippers that made some girls look as if they were barefoot), a lack of focus in the editing, and some apparently random surprises: two boldly colorful flowered dresses with mismatched floral coats. Perhaps they were indications of the way this extraordinary designer will take fashion next, and in that way, they have intriguing potential. But, like the rest of the show, they didn't quite move the label forward enough to make this season one of Elbaz's truly memorable spectaculars.