"It's not Russian, it's Indian," said Naeem Khan
at his civilized Fall presentation in his now year-old showroom, pointing out the embroidered swirl of Kashmiri paisleys covering a grand opera coat. (As he tells it, the piece took 40 people almost two weeks to make.) Actually, there was a sort of sartorial Eastern itinerary happening here, from the Muscovite chic of fox-trimmed gilets and luxurious skirts to the more blurred (but decidedly east of Greece) origins of a Poiret-esque kimono coat and emerald velvet caftan. Most exciting were the richly worked separates (for which Khan says there's increasing demand). Unlike a gown, these can be worn over and over and in umpteen different ways. But when it came to serious evening, Khan's approach was pure American glamour, with standouts such as a silver paillette dress that looked like it was made of crushed glass, a smoky brown chiffon number encrusted with hunks of crystal, and a white tulle goddess dress with an elaborate necklace halter. Just don't expect to see any of them this Sunday night, as Khan has opted out of the red-carpet races. "It's just too tight this time," he said. "It's the retailers or the Oscars." Ironically, this is the first season he's working with perennial Oscar commenter, stylist Mary Alice Stephenson. But no matter—it must be a happy partnership, because this was one of Khan's strongest collections.