Elie Saab loves La Fenice, Venice's legendary opera house. As its name would suggest, this phoenix has burned to the ground and risen from the flames three times. For his Fall Couture collection, Saab borrowed the ruched velvet of La Fenice's curtains, the gilt and blue of its decoration, and even the fire and ash of its hellish moments for one multicolored mousseline gown. Given that backstory, the result was understandably a little overwrought.

Before the show, Saab said, "If a woman doesn't want 'rich,' she doesn't come to couture." So rich was what he gave her, from the moment Karolina Kurkova sashayed out onto the catwalk in a gown of deep red guipure lace swathed in silk tulle. The dress that followed her was short but scarcely simpler, with its bands of chiffon and lace liberally doused with sequins.

The designer claimed he was breaking some personal ground with his focus on classical draping. There was lots of asymmetric single-shoulder action, and he was also keen to pay more attention to the back of his dresses. That's where the décolleté was this season, which often left the front decorously covered up to the throat. Put that together with the color scheme; the broad-shouldered, bat-winged proportions; and the embellishment of the fabrics, and the collection felt heavy, even slightly old-fashioned. Saab is a proven master of red-carpet dressing, but these clothes sometimes made one wonder in exactly what decade that carpet was being unrolled.