Erotic turn-of-the-century paintings of imagined ancient rituals and the austere, attenuated ballet costumes of Pina Bausch kindled the beginnings of Givenchy couture. It could have routed Riccardo Tisci back to the dark place of the soul he so loves to explore, but he said he'd consciously pulled away from too much melancholia. It's not quite the time to lay on more agony, after all, and in any case, Tisci is aware of wanting to stretch himself: "It was a little bit of a step up for me, to challenge myself to use color and show more daywear, which is doing very well with clients."

So the black floor was strewn with rose petals (a direct lift from a famous Lawrence Alma-Tadema painting, for reference spotters) and the shapely skirtsuits and dresses at the beginning were in pale alabaster—part eighties body-con seaming, part Edwardian shoulder, exaggerated with sheer puffs of organza instead of pads. The color shaded in with draped chiffon gowns in tints of lemon, faded Parma violet, and celadon, which were held back from straight-up classicism by under-glimpses of Lycra, pearl, or crystal-studded bondage straps (a more refined holdover from the Spring ready-to-wear collection).

Toward the conclusion, a couple of priestess-y white togas made an entrance, the models' faces half shrouded in cowl drapes. On the runway, that produced a slightly disconcerting air of mystery, but one that will easily be shaken off when these dresses are worn to an event as modern-elegant eveningwear. Tisci's increasing maturity is edging him in the right direction.