With so many fashion houses going through a changing of the guard, every debut is avidly checked out by those in search of the next generation of contenders. Patrick Robinson, recently arrived from New York to design for Paco Rabanne, described his first show as clothes "for women who like to be the center of attention in a room. That was what I took from looking at Paco Rabanne's first collection, of 12 chain-mail dresses: the fact that they were provocative and sexy."

Still, provocative and sexy has to be appropriate for modern life, and that made Robinson resist launching his first mission directly into the retro space age. Instead, he sent out eveningwear for sophisticated young luxury seekers: strapless satin dresses wound around with flat, abstract ruffles; sheaths with alternating bands of matt and sheen, traced with crystal at the neckline; and sheer plissé Empire dresses with an erotic shadow of Chantilly lace beneath. Links to the house heritage did emerge, but subtly—in the suede chain belts riding on the hip of a wrapped shearling coat, or the disc pattern woven into the toe of gold and silver platform sandals.

Robinson's most seductive pieces fell nicely into that city-girl evening zone that's not about overdone red carpet gowns. They included a deliciously shapely mauve velvet dress, topped with a fox bolero; bomber jackets with epaulets and a twinkle of Lurex; and a narrow skirt overlaid with a delicate bubble of lace. "I wanted the collection to be a palate cleanser, but this is the first step," he said backstage, as TV camera crews and editors pressed forward to congratulate him on the first signs of a reawakening at another Paris house.