It started with a roar—a disembodied snarl over the loudspeakers. Turned out it was a panther's roar, going by the look of the first model out: Her black button-down was fastened all the way up to the collar and had a pride of panthers printed on its hem. The top was paired with a pencil skirt that was mostly sheer between the waist and hem, and backstage Riccardo Tisci said, "There's more sex than usual." How could there not be, with the twin inspirations of Bettie Page (the foil to Jerry Lee Lewis in his Fall menswear) and Amanda Lear on the cover of Roxy Music's For Your Pleasure? Lear, by the way, was sitting front-row, as were Liv Tyler, Nicole Richie, Ron Wood, Kanye West, and Mugler's Nicola Formichetti.

Tisci's show was even more of an event than usual, with his name being bandied about as a likely candidate for the Dior job left open by Galliano's sudden departure. If confidence counts, he's got the gig. As he did last season, he worked and reworked a single silhouette (loose-fitting sweater, varsity jacket, or button-down, and razor-thin knee-length skirt) in a tight, interrelated group of fabrics. In addition to those panthers, he used purple orchid prints, black patent, see-through organza, Gianni Versace-in-the-eighties silks, and—there she was, smack-dab in the middle of a couple of sweatshirts—the original pinup queen herself, Miss Page. Accessorizing it all: fur-covered cat-eye sunglasses, baseball caps with cat ears, and gold-tipped black patent stiletto pumps—meow!—that will surely enter the already crowded pantheon of must-have Givenchy shoes.

The laser focus of it all was impressive. You wound up seduced, even if there's little chance of seeing a real girl in a getup like Joan Smalls' patent varsity jacket, satin peplum, organza pencil, and thigh highs. That's the funny thing about Tisci: He's got the vision thing, but it's individual pieces that end up selling. From Spring, it's the leopard-print cropped coat with tails. This season, if Liv Tyler and the Givenchy men's Rottweiler tee she was wearing tonight are any indication, it's gonna be those panther sweatshirts.