Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig took some critical hits for unfinished hems and sloppy seams at their debut runway show last season. But from the looks of their Fall collection, shown tableau-style at Diane von Furstenberg¿s old West 12th Street digs, they learned from the experience.

Perhaps the androgynous Marlene Dietrich-meets-the-Duchess-of-Windsor theme simply suited them better than Spring¿s hyper-romantic flowers. Or maybe their recent red-carpet coups—Sienna Miller and J. Lo at the Golden Globes; Anne Hathaway at the SAG Awards—have boosted their confidence.

In any case, there was newfound polish to the satin chiffon dresses with embroidered waists that have become their calling card. The girls love a rhinestone, and they hand-sewed ropes of them to a violet velvet strapless chemise for a trompe l¿oeil necklace effect. And there was more ambition, too, in the black-and-white pieces that riffed sexily on a man¿s tuxedo—although a simpler bib-front frock was more successful than a party dress with a tricky bodice made from what looked like the collars of a jacket and a shirt. And if the sweeping ball gown in silk tulle with dégradé feather bodice is too grand for today¿s starlets, they¿ll be angling for first dibs on the ostrich-plume cocktail number with a duchesse satin belt.