What do you get when you mix Rembrandt, Le Corbusier, and the Mexican film star María Félix? The new Fall collection by Giambattista Valli. From the painter (and perhaps from classic YSL, too) came the black suits—longer through the jacket, fuller through the leg, and more office-ready than anything the designer has shown before. The bold shots of yellow and red, geometric prints, and the new stiffer architecture found in Valli's favorite trapeze and bell shapes were derived from the great architect. And from La Doña, as she was called, he took the flourishes.

Valli's first love is a party dress. So Swarovski crystals studded the funnel necks of short frocks. Black-tipped white feathers were stitched together to create a showstopping weightless cape. And last season's masses of soft floral rosettes have become ribbon-candy ruffles—on one shift dress, they were horizontally arrayed to decorate the neckline; on another, they zipped up and down from neck to knee-length hem. From his new jewelry line, Valli showed large heart-shaped pendants emblazoned with skulls.

All of this gave Jessica Biel and the Euro socialite cohort in the front row plenty to ooh and aah over. What jazzes up the fashion types on the opposite side of the runway—aside from the obvious luxe of the fabrics and the fine construction—is how the cut-away-from-the-body silhouette seems both right for the season and completely of a piece with the exciting body of sophisticated work Valli is continuing to build.