It was bow ties, butterflies, and daisies in the dunes for Alexis Mabille. Paris' master of contemporary camp put on his show in the Oratoire du Louvre, a cool, stone Protestant temple on rue Saint-Honoré. Sexy, scantily clad men aren't the usual entertainment at the Oratoire, and a few eyebrows were raised about staging a fashion show in a church, but this designer isn't one to stand on ceremony.

Until now, Mabille has spent most of his design time decorating the classics—embellishing dressing-gown jackets in kimono-pattern silks, for example, and generally going to town with his signature bow ties—but he took a desert-survival hike for his Spring Mirage collection. Somewhere in the sand he found a new slouch, easy volumes, and a certain laid-back sporty chic.

Jean jackets in sandy tones with sun-ray yokes looked like Midnight Cowboy on a weekend in Palm Springs, and the combi-short in tan boiled-cotton jersey with mechanic's overall zips had true grit. Sleeves, back yokes, and waists unzipped for a wear-it-your-way rusty linen tunic, gold-dusted heavy silk parka, biker tux, and poncho blouson in quilted jersey.

A desert trip isn't without its perils for Mabille. He's a fanciful sort, and a Lawrence of Arabia inspiration could've easily turned into a costume parade. As it was, crochet daisies inspired by something from his grandmother's attic and scattered over jackets and mixed with wood rosary beads for thick, twisted voodoo cuffs erred too far on the fey side. Still, his post-hippie band of sun-kissed wanderers was a seductive lot.