"If you're going to have a show, then have a show," said Anna Sui, gearing up in her office about a week before her Belle Époque extravaganza. It was obvious how much the designer—happy among her stacks of books, inspiration boards, and piles of 1890's-inspired jewelry from Erickson Beamon—enjoyed the process. Not that Sui wasn't mindful of the economy. She noted that she had made careful fabric choices to ensure that everything remained at a comfortable price point. But Sui, and the girl she dresses, does like to have fun. As front-row guest Taylor Momsen, an ideal member of the Sui demographic, put it: She has "a different kind of spark."

What lit Sui's imagination was Proust and the Paris of the Gay Nineties. She looked at pictures of its grandes horizontales and its art, as well as of Yves Saint Laurent's country retreat, where every room was named after a character in Remembrance of Things Past. The research resulted in a demimondaine's boudoir vibe (rose prints and velvet trims) with accents of more sober Rive Droite propriety (black velvet and soutache trim).

There was a lot of black—enlivened by lots of pattern, naturally—in a collection that was overlong and not without its heavy-handed moments. There was also a splashy saffron cardigan with rhinestone trim, a relatively tame brushed-wool plaid coat for the fainter of heart, and some great boots. It will be hard to decide between the colorful over-the-knee style and Sui's amazingly chic challenge to the Ugg boot. Way to kick it, Anna.