There was a flash of cameras in the front row at Chado. When the scrum parted, it wasn't Leighton Meester or some other Gossip Girl the photographers had been shooting, but Martha Stewart. If Ralph Rucci attracts customers of a certain age, it's partly because the clothes he designs, with their intricate handwork—the sheer paneling, the braided insets—are so very costly. But maybe it's time for the celebrity stylists out there to take another look.

Rucci's program notes said he was inspired by Pina Bausch, the choreographer who died in June. While the silk gazar dresses screen-printed with her likeness seemed a shade much, there was an appealing lightness to many other pieces in the collection. A pale gray chiffon softly A-line dress pintucked into delicate narrow columns would make a fine choice for a starlet hoping to land her first grown-up role. And a tank dress embroidered all over with silk tulle paillettes that shaded from white through gray to black would be a kick to wear on the red carpet.

That's not to say there wasn't plenty to please established clients like Stewart or the socialite Deeda Blair, who sat across the runway. A black braided chiffon skirtsuit lightly embellished with ostrich feathers and worn with a sparkling white shell looked smart. A vanilla double-faced wool crepe dress-and-coat set with geometric tulle insets, meanwhile, had Michelle Obama's name written all over it. That, as every designer knows, would be the ultimate celebrity placement.