With the Vanity Fair Oscar party canceled and the fate of the awards show itself still in the balance, Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig were smart to scale back the number of red-carpet dresses in their presentation. What their Hollywood clients need now is something less grand, but not—and this is key—something less glamorous. Marchesa's Fall presentation had glamour in spades, from the opening high-neck red suede above-the-knee dress with bunches of organza roses for sleeves, to the plunge-front black silk tuxedo one-piece. Both paid subtle tribute to the duo's chosen muse, Queen Elizabeth I, who, Craig explained, was forced to keep her femininity hidden despite her awesome power. Hence the aforementioned high neck and the pants (no matter that the Virgin Queen never actually wore trousers).

Chapman and Craig's decision to allude only loosely to the famous monarch paid off in such pieces as an aubergine satin and organza cocktail dress that draped from the neckline to the knees. There was a new structure to these clothes, as Craig herself was eager to point out. Take a stunning black dress with an hourglass shape so sculpturally defiant, it evoked armor. Anybody who wore it would be paparazzi-proof. You didn't expect Marchesa to completely forsake the red carpet, did you?