About a third of the way through the Balmain show, Karlie Kloss strutted out in an outfit that made the women in Olivier Rousteing's crowd sit up and take notice. "That's how I'd like to look tonight," they were thinking about an off-white crewneck sweater tucked into a pair of low-slung velvet pants embroidered Fabergé egg-style in thousands of pearls and crystals. Couture, but effortless.

Rousteing is in his second runway season for Balmain, and he's on his way to establishing a promising new direction for the house—one that retains the elaborately hand-worked pieces the label is known for but is imbued with a fresher, easier spirit. The first look out, a leather sweatshirt embellished with a needlepoint cameo that was worn over a snap-front top and simple black pants, captured the new vibe, as did a bottle green leather camp shirt worn with matching embossed velvet flares.

The Balmain jacket has been redesigned by Rousteing. It's as boxy and oversize now as it was shrunken then; from the back, it's almost a perfect square. To cut their masculine look, he paired the jackets with fluid velvet pants, either dévoré or stamped in the Fabergé patterns.

That's not to say there isn't room for improvement here. The least thrilling part of the collection was a series of stretchy dresses embroidered all over in pearls and crystals. They were predictable compared to those high-low mixes.