With his first boutique now open at the Plaza, Douglas Hannant is not about to let a little credit crunch get him down. The quality of his collection is "staying very high," he said—and, presumably, the price point is too. "That's me," he explained, just before his presentation in the grand old hotel's Terrace Room. "That's what I do."

What Hannant does is make a mean dress for a woman with room in her budget for another evening gown or two. Because he was going for a sculptural quality this season, he showed his gala looks on mannequins mounted on pedestals; it looked as if a fabric fiend had draped his way through the Met. "Venus," the 1986 hit by Bananarama playing in the background, was Hannant's bow to the goddess, and there were shades of the toga in the beautifully ruched and shirred matte jersey dresses. Not everyone can pay Park Avenue prices for their finery, but because Hannant constructs his work with such care—as a layered dress made from individually laser-printed swaths of basket-weave organza proved—he will always have admirers north of 59th Street.