Fashion's collective eye is trained on China. But for French-Vietnamese designer Barbara Bui, the references in her Fall collection to the People's Republic harkened back to the squaring of east and west she did when starting her career almost 30 years ago. To the exotic dragons and Maoist olive drabs, Bui added seventies glamour, name-checking David Bowie and Bianca Jagger. The first look out was iconic Mrs. Mick Numero Uno, with the twist that its satin tuxedo jacket was quilted in the traditional Chinese style.

Bui's cocktail yielded some fine pieces—a sturdy-chic military overcoat, a slew of ankle-cropped pants, a Halston-esque jersey dress, a leopard coat. That lamé maxi dress and the slouchy pants in metallic leopard triggered memories of a more recent glam heyday, the apex of Balmain-ia. But heck, they're also the pieces you'd shop your closet for sooner rather than later. Still, working an Asian motif is tricky. (Marc Jacobs was smart to take his to a so-bad-it's-good extreme a few seasons ago.) What tripped Bui up were the schlocky crouching tigers, and hidden dragons in prints and hefty embroideries that closed the show, a costume-y misstep in a collection that typically does reality so right.