It wasn't a promising start, because who wants to arrive at Christian Lacroix to be greeted by black coats? Ignore that, though. In the second half, this show picked up wonderfully. Once Lacroix let himself loose on evening, a vision of the color, prints, bows, and general idiosyncratic whimsy he puts into his couture was suddenly and—for the first time—prettily captured in his ready-to-wear collection.

In a season when the eye craves color, what Lacroix can do with poufy little dresses splashed with painterly strokes of orange, purple, and pink was a treat, as were his purple and emerald velvets and a delightful scarlet satin ruffled bustier. Lacroix's fantasias in haute couture have an extravagance whose applicability to real life is sometimes hard to imagine. Here, though, he made it believable by abbreviating the lengths and putting everything with black opaques and a pair of outrageously original boots, which in themselves were riveting. Part biker, part Western, yet wholly feminine, they were decorated with a flower pattern of domed studs running across the pointy toe and around the slouched-down back of the heel, and they were then finished—as Lacroix always finishes his best things—with a bow in front. At the end, the most wantable pair came in dark-green metallic leather, smothered in pearls. For that alone, this collection gets a three-star rating and a recommendation that any cool and special girl check it out immediately.