There were times today at Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig's Marchesa presentation when you couldn't breathe. And it had nothing to do with the crush of onlookers, camera crews, celebrity journalists, or the mini-posses of handlers for Jessica Szohr, Kelly Osbourne, and Gabourey Sidibe. Or, quite frankly, even with the baying pack of paparazzi laid in wait for them outside the Chelsea Art Museum.

Nope, it was the dresses—literally breathtaking—all exquisitely wrought this season with orientalist-inspired details: heavily bejeweled necklines, hand-painted florals on rolling sculptural drapes, and grand obilike loops that were revealed when a model turned. Amid the gowns were a few harem-panted jumpsuits. Cut in lace and finished with little bolero jackets and jewel-crusted clutches, they didn't exactly read casual.

Chapman and Craig have proved time and again they know how to knock them dead. The assembled crowd could scarcely tear themselves away from the clothes, a rarity at some presentations, and were often at a loss for superlatives. And yet there was also a sense of the expected here, evident in both the familiar drama of the clothes and the format of the presentation. It would be a treat to see Chapman and Craig hit "refresh" next season.