Hell and heaven. Prabal Gurung's Fall collection made that journey, starting off all black, traveling through a blue period, and culminating in a finale of gold and ivory worthy of the pearly gates. Beforehand, the designer talked about his own spiritual quest, about embracing both the dark and the light within.

On the runway, that translated into dueling impulses. On the one hand, Gurung is an expert tailor with a keen skill for creating a sleek, sexy silhouette: See his sleeveless, body-hugging dress made in part from stretchy iridescent neoprene or a pantsuit pieced together from shiny and matte black fabrics. The new louche trousers he showed came in a low-slung, skinny flare shape.

On the other hand, Gurung is a dressmaker who's seen his profile skyrocket with celebrities like Zoë Saldana wearing him on the red carpet. (She was sitting in his front row today in a peacock green jacket and coordinating print pants from Spring.) Last season's can't-ignore-me engineered prints were a hit with retailers; Gurung recently landed Bergdorf Goodman, so he revisited the idea here, creating designs that combined Japan's coveted blue roses and Georgia O'Keeffe's cow skulls, and later recasting the print in lemony gold.

This half of his offering wasn't without pitfalls, though. Once he'd added ruffles and sheer insets and bug jewelry, it started to feel like way too much sugar for a dime (not to mention a bit too Tisci-tinged). The evening number with the most zing was much simpler by comparison: a long white gown made with sheer, delicately bejeweled sleeves and a bullion-embroidered train—lovely.

So which of the designer's dueling impulses came out on top? In our book: the sleek, unfettered side.