Elie Saab is taking a break from the out-and-out glamour of Hollywood movie sirens. This season, he got the memos about a softer romanticism and pale, washed-out colors—not quite the sweet-pea pastels others have been using, but dusty tints of bois de rose, mauve, celadon, and plenty of foundation-shade beiges. That earned him some points—as did the decision to hold the jewelry and complicated updos and keep the makeup relatively natural. The presentation seemed less stilted, younger, and more modern—to a degree. Saab still likes to be absolutely sure no one misses the point of his dresses, and since there were essentially four shapes in a 44-look show, quite a lot of surreptitious Blackberry twiddling had broken out in the audience a quarter of the way in.

To give Saab his due, those templates—repeated, catalog-style, with multiple fabrics, embroideries, and neckline options—were in sync with the general drift of fashion. The double-layered dress with a slim inner column and a sheer, petal-embroidered over-piece dragging a little train was the best of the bunch in a dressy-grunge type of way. The short flower-appliquéd dresses with boleros also chimed with a section of this week's Dior show, which increases their chances of being paired up in fashion stories. Among the also-rans were the draped, slit bustier dresses showing a flash of lace (last season's lingerie fad), and one over-crinolined and petticoated strapless ball gown. It could certainly answer every little girl's prayer, but in the end, it was just a bit too fantasy-prom to cut it in Couture week.