A new season meant a new attitude at Givenchy. Designer Riccardo Tisci got an earful after his spring debut—and he seems to have taken the criticism on board. Gone was that show's hobbling silhouette, unfortunate footwear, and belabored theatrics. In their place was a collection that paid homage to the heritage of Hubert de Givenchy's house without being one-note. It had suits; it had, in red, the color of the moment; it had volume. Tisci even did sporty.

With the rest of the fashion world brooding over somber shades, protective layers, and austerity, you might've expected Tisci to work in that vein—after all, before he took over the reins at Givenchy, what little people knew of him was his way with a cardinal coat and his dark romanticism. Instead, he brought unexpected playfulness to tucked and folded army-green knits, shaggy chubbies, and shiny puffer jackets. And there were ready-for-the-retail-floor little black dresses by the dozen.

Tisci's first six models—all women of color—wore some of those cocktail numbers. There are some who might say that their place in the lineup—why not mix them in with the Russian-blonde brigade?—was a little forced. But it still drove home a point about the modeling business' lack of diversity, or worse, an industry-wide blind spot for anyone who doesn't fit a too-narrow definition of beauty. It's an issue few other designers have seemed willing to address recently. For that, and for a much improved sophomore effort, Tisci deserves kudos.