Little drummer boys, chichi soubrettes, Belle Époque madames, southern Mediterranean exotics: All these stock Christian Lacroix characters lined up and wound their way around his carpeted runway for Spring. In that sense, the collection was much as it always is, though that's also to say just as laden with layered delights and surprises. Lacroix has relaxed into a groove in which all the imagination he's developed and knowledge he's accrued over 22 years seem to flow out of his fingertips and into effortless collages of pattern, color, and personal references.

No outfit can ever be assessed in a single glance: It needs at least a triple or quadruple take for the eye to take it in and the brain to name what's going on. There's the palette alone: nasturtium, peony, ice blue, mushroom; then the prints and the poufs and the flying peplums; the drapes, the stripes, the bows, the bangles.

That would be overload in anyone else's book, but for Lacroix, this show had a relative simplicity. There was calmer daywear in the form of military pantsuits and a return to the short, eighteenth-century pouf-skirted silhouettes of the collections that first made his name in the late eighties. What elevated the whole to a current newsworthy context, though, were the things Lacroix did with jewelry: stacks of mismatched lacquer and crystal cuffs, multiple smotherings of giant glittery necklaces, gilded heart-shaped lockets, and faux fronds of coral. Even a humble woven basket bag became a canvas for a super-dose of diamanté and metallic gold baubles. It was a pleasure to witness and something to be inspired by. Even if only the very few will own a part of this collection, there's an idea in there for every fashion watcher: If you've got jewelry, it's time to bring it out and try piling it on all at once.