"The beat goes on," said Mark Badgley backstage after today's show. "It never makes sense to do something that we're not about." What Badgley and his design partner, James Mischka, are about, recession or no, is great-looking dresses with a healthy dose of straight-up glamour—speaking of which, they are currently hard at work on two Oscar gowns. For all that, though, they kicked things off in a quietly minimal manner, sending out a group of smart all-black day looks. Some of these came from their lower-priced Platinum collection, which the duo went on to mix in throughout, because, noted Mischka, "that's how women shop."

Of course, the wattage was soon amped up. On the brighter end of the spectrum: a liquid-gold velvet that fell into a seductive low-necked cowl; eye-popping satins; and a slinky allover-sequin column, surely headed for a chanteuse near you. An asymmetrical frock with a sideways drape ending in a chunk of ruffles was too tricky, but overall this was a solid collection. Strongest, in fact, were looks with a modicum of austerity, like a one-shoulder, smoke-hued gown on Bruna Tenorio. With its strategic flutter of ruffles, it was easily the most elegant thing around.