If there is one collection that encapsulated everything that's best about Fall—and gave it a high degree of personal expression—it would be Alber Elbaz's for Lanvin. You want the simplicity of a stark, covered-up, carved-out silhouette? It's here. You're craving a dose of multifaceted opulence with it? That's here, too. And what about a sexy, simple evening dress powerful enough to force you to spend, no matter how much? Look no further.

In one way, Elbaz's collection was a feat of technical genius. He'd started off by making fabric out of strips of grosgrain ribbon, winding hundreds of meters of the stuff around the body to make shapely dresses, blouses, and skirts—a step on from the free-flowing plissés of his Summer collection. What makes him so special, however, is the humility and realism of his focus. Instead of getting lost in the detail, he said, "Part of a designer's job is to be pragmatic. Not to be ashamed to think about making life easy for a woman."

The result was a tour de force of innovation and simplicity sparkled up with the most outrageously excessive jewelry—door knocker-sized crystals, slabs of gilt, giant cuffs. Every calibration of usefulness was represented, from plain wool work-ready day dresses and pantsuits through knockout fur and patent coats, asymmetric body-molding cocktail options right up to blindingly brilliant dresses made of vertical ribbons loaded with gold sequins. In a season when so many have anxiously cast around for what women will want in a recession, Elbaz has intuited the best answer of all: Give us restraint, give us pragmatism, but never slam the door on the possibility of utter gorgeousness.