Lanvin designer Alber Elbaz can turn even a broken wrist that prevented him from sketching to creative advantage. "In the studio I found I could only make big gestures to describe what I wanted," he said. "And that turned into all this volume and weightlessness." The results included generous skirts and puffy silhouettes, drenched in exquisite hues ranging from intense violet through sophisticated neutrals—a beautifully shaded demonstration of Elbaz's growing insight into how lovely can also mean realistic.

Let's face it: A full skirt is not, under normal circumstances, easy on the hip. Elbaz sorted that out by running his silk faille and gazar through the washing machine—a transformation that eliminated the dreaded bulk and put air in a gather, bounce in a flounce. He also makes things simple to put on, as evidenced by the sleeveless mauve dress that blossomed below the waist, or the trench cut to swing out in a glorious swirl.

Still can't go there? No worries. Elbaz also knows how to do slim, chiefly by way of Greek pleats—either along the lines of Madame Grès' refined, ribbon-bound couture version or, with brilliant freshness, the flowy rivulets of Mariano Fortuny's tunics. Bless him for making them as easy to pull on as a T-shirt.

Decoration? He's thought of that, too. There were strands of pearl tied up in ribbon or studded with blue stones, and coin or brass-bobble embellishment applied to jackets or integrated into shirts—fancy stuff, but made totally today. Which precisely summed up the talent that brought this designer such a roar of appreciation at the end of his show.