Malandrino's models walked with slick black caps of side-parted hair: a gamine 'do in homage to Zizi Jeanmaire, the French prima ballerina who lit up fifties Europe with her magical Carmen.

Like the Spring show, which had a (slightly questionable) zing of eighties flavor, this was undeniably a retro moment, mining the sixties of Zizi's heyday (funnel-collared coats and graphic tunics) as well as the twenties (straight flapper dresses trimmed with marabou). For the most part, though, Malandrino avoided the dusty vintage pitfall, the one exception being a purple A-line coat that looked like it came off the rack at Resurrection. Pretty draped-jersey pieces, the least nostalgic look, tipped a hat not only to Jeanmaire but also to Malandrino's own dance background.

Over the past year, the designer has moved away from crafty fare and toward a cleaner look. Perhaps to fill a tactile void, she allowed herself to play with volume everywhere you turned—in the ballooning sleeves of a knit blazer, chic blouson jackets, and an iffy bubble evening gown.

In short, Malandrino packed into the collection everything that a modern-day Jeanmaire might tuck into her traveling trunks, from a sexy daytime suit to a kicky little beaded houndstooth shift for aperitifs avec her own modern-day Roland Petit.