Fresh off two big hits at the Emmys last month—Marcia Cross and Debra Messing both chose gowns from his July haute couture show—Elie Saab presented his ready-to-wear collection this morning in Paris for the first time. While the 73-look extravaganza needed editing, it had the makings of success; you could easily picture his celebrity clients wearing one of the white raw-silk skirtsuits to a Beverly Hills benefit lunch. And some of his black cocktail dresses—a drop-waist pleated chiffon number comes to mind—would flatter a young starlet on the premiere circuit.

If bling is retreating on most other runways, though, the Beirut-based Saab seems not to have got that memo. For non-red-carpet nights, he kept the silhouette narrow and the embellishments to a minimum—as in a red floral-print chiffon column dress. But elsewhere, with Rita Hayworth and Marilyn Monroe as inspirations, he liberally sequined hourglass gowns, embroidered pearls onto the hems of others, and trimmed a few in feathers—all flashbulb-friendly, to say the least. With his ready-to-wear operation now in its sixth year, Saab is talking about opening a store in Paris, but the place he ought to be is Southern California.