It's a shame today's red-carpet regulars and the stylists who dress them are so print-averse (and risk-averse), because it would be a treat to see someone like Penélope Cruz wear the rose-printed off-the-shoulder aqua jacquard gown that was the centerpiece of Barbara Tfank's Fall 2014 presentation. Frankly, it's also difficult to imagine who besides Cruz, with her supermodel stature and Sophia Loren-style smolder, could pull off such a dress. But it was by no means the only formal option from Tfank, who shifted her focus to eveningwear this season because her clients had demanded more black-tie attire. For a designer who consistently works with couture-level fabrics—that French jacquard, by the way, was far richer in person than it appears in photographs—gowns are a logical medium. Another floral option, this one less structured, with giant pink peonies on champagne-colored lamé, looked nearly vintage in its sixties silhouette, with a shoulder-skimming décolleté neckline and full, box-pleated skirt. That said, when the model wearing it stood with her hands in the dress' pockets, she looked far cooler—and more comfortable—than the one in a platinum lamé camisole with a matching curve-skimming fishtail skirt. Tfank said those separates were her way of doing "something truly modern for evening," but the brocade and jacquard dresses that looked a little like throwbacks were far more beautiful.

The show was held at the Leila Heller Gallery, where Turkish artist Murat Pulat's paintings of such midcentury starlets as Marilyn Monroe and Janet Leigh formed the backdrop, and while it's true that a gold matelassé pencil dress with a wide, rolled neckline would have been beautiful on Leigh, with matching metallic Manolos it looked lovely for today as well. Tfank said the models' updos were tousled to approximate the actress Monica Vitti's in the campy 1966 movie Modesty Blaise. "It's such a wacky film," she said. "I love it." Tfank knows what she wants to see—and what her customers want to wear—and she executed it with excellence.