Albert Kriemler's Akris collections speak in hushed tones. That's what makes his clothes so popular with ladies of decorous taste yet lavish means, but it doesn't always make for good runway. To compare him to the showman Karl Lagerfeld—whose Chanel productions directly precede those of Akris—isn't fair, of course, but Kriemler doesn┐t help his cause with some of his staging choices. Why not select music that's a little more upbeat? And while we're on the subject of change, perhaps he should think about swapping the catacombs of the Carrousel du Louvre for a new venue—someplace spare and fuss-free like his clothes.

Like many other designers this season, Kriemler found inspiration in the sculpted silhouettes of Cristobal Balenciaga. Coats in black mattelassé and ultra-luxe heather-gray vicuña had a cocoon-like shape. Whether or not Akris customers will embrace this backward-looking, forward-moving new direction remains to be seen. But Kriemler played it safer with such items as slouchy cashmere knits and pants cut two ways: slim and tapered or fuller with flap pockets. For evening, the designer rather puzzlingly eliminated structure, draping silk satin or crepe in front and back and occasionally leaving the sides of the torso uncovered. Unlike other elements of the collection, these won't make the leap to retail without some serious rethinking back at the studio.