Carolina Herrera believes in pretty. The world as we know it is crumbling around us, but you wouldn't think so looking at her lovely collection—and there's a certain strength in maintaining that sense of poise under pressure. If she acknowledged the recession at all, she did so by forsaking the elaborate embroideries she usually favors. In their place were rich, textured fabrics, be it the metallic gazar of a blouse and corset, the glinting lace of a high-waisted skirt, or the forest-green striped cloque of a corset gown and matching scarf. Herrera has always had an eye for special materials, and for Fall there was an almost three-dimensional two-tone jacquard—lapis blue with gray, or cassis with caviar. She used it to great, graphic effect, accentuating the curves of the waist on a long-sleeved day dress, a narrow pantsuit, and a swagged one-shoulder gown alike.

Despite a concentration on grand eveningwear, the collection didn't feel stuffy. A double-faced crepe jacket was tossed over a fils coupe long dress in the same shade of blue, while a substantial copper waist-cincher finished off the asymmetrical bodice of a gown with one bracelet sleeve and the other strap languidly slipping from the model's bare shoulder. Herrera may have used copper—not gold—in this case, but at this house it's still a gilded existence.