In a season when fashion has suddenly woken up to embrace all the possibilites of the palette, you'd expect something extra special from a dab hand with color like Christian Lacroix. As always, he did play with print—with pink and black splotches on organza ruffled dresses, with lemon and black speckles on waffled silk chintz, bursts of spray-painted watercolor and schematic sixties patterns flowing over beach cover-ups. As a total look, though, it never quite went as bonkers as you wanted. It was—what? A touch forties, with some big-skirted dresses and slick, exaggerated trenches; a bit sixties, with neat little coats; and then nonspecifically contemporary with blousons and beachwear.

Some of these pieces carried the flavor of Lacroix—no one else could be the author of that puffy buttercup yellow dress with a black bow—but as a collection, it lacked the coherence and vibrancy that zing out of his couture shows season after season. And that's a pity, because at a moment like this, it would have been good to see Lacroix pushing his advantage as a grand master of exuberance as far as it could go.