Max Azria apparently picked a winner when he bought Hervé Léger in 1998. Wearing one of the house's bandage dresses has become a rite of passage for young actresses—like Joy Bryant, January Jones, and Michelle Trachtenberg, who attracted the paparazzi to today's show. That's some ROI (return on investment).

Azria and his wife, Lubov, aren't trying to refashion the house; they've stuck by that bankable dress, which means the show is mostly about novel embellishments. For Fall the designers wanted to move to "the beat of an urban tribe," so they chose a muted Saharan palette and successfully played with texture through weaving and insets of exotic skins. The Azrias also experimented with the built-out shoulder this season. That created an interesting contrast to the hourglass silhouette, but also unavoidably recalled Balmain's Spring 2009 "Frankenstein" look. More original was a soft chiffon snakeskin-print dress with center-front braiding detail, and a knockout crystal-beaded number worn by Anna Selezneva, which deserved the applause the starlets gave it.