"Tilda made my year," Thakoon Panichgul said in a preshow interview, referring to the fact that the actress wore his gown to the Berlin film festival. The journalist-turned-designer has been on a roll since dressing Michelle Obama at the Democratic National Convention last August, so the heat was on as he presented his Fall collection to an audience that included White House social secretary Desirée Rogers and longtime supporter Amanda Peet. The upshot? Surprisingly safe, retail-friendly clothes that combined elements of the designer's past work.

Panichgul, who likes a touch of the surreal, explored that theme not only in print for Fall, but with texture as well, showing a cascading gown made of a ruffle-patterned matelessé fabric. A winter-white double-faced wool dress with the outlines of a bomber jacket etched into it referenced the designer's interest in construction. And, as always, there were fun feminine touches—cue the built-in bows. Culottes will always be a hard sell, but Panichgul's suits were more convincing. If the end result felt somewhat blurred, perhaps that's the inevitable—and hopefully only temporary—result of being thrust into the spotlight's glare.