Soft-focus romanticism is Vera Wang's stock-in-trade; she was a bridal designer first, after all. Whether she borrows from the ballet or travels back in time to early-twentieth-century Russia, as she did for Fall, there will always be embroidered tulle, metallic brocade, and glossy duchesse satin.

To these pretty Vera-isms, she added stiffened jackets belted and bustled in the back with a taut military elegance, and fabulously thin shearlings in black and midnight cropped high above the waist. For accessories, there were gloves that inched their way up the biceps and sturdy boots with medallions on the calves. In case this all proved a little moody, a little dark, for the luxe-loving Vera Wang girl, the designer embroidered the skirt of a cage dress with enough gold and bronze bullion to fill the Romanovs┐ coffers. She added panels of densely embroidered paillettes to dresses, then veiled them with net.

Babushkas aside, there was a lot going on in these looks. If her artsy layers didn┐t have the same effervescence as last season┐s did, chalk it up to her starting point: Yes, she mentioned the Bolsheviks in her program notes. But no matter: Pulled apart and taken piece by piece, there was real beauty to be found.