A quote from Marcel Proust—"It is only women who do not know how to dress that are afraid of colors"—preceded a brief statement from Alexis Mabille about "the science of color" and energy as therapy. His show certainly promoted a fearless approach to color blocking. Each outfit was monochrome, from brightest red to palest blue, and each model's face was painted the same shade as the enormous tissue flower mounted on her head.

But the real inspiration for the show was anything but pseudo-science. Mabille was inspired by a photograph of iconic model Lisa Fonssagrives on a beach, her face suffused with pink from the sunlight coming through her umbrella. A more recent picture of Christy Turlington by Patrick Demarchelier also provided a bit of background.

That's the kind of forensic stuff that establishes Mabille's love of fashion. But it also isolates the quality that makes his couture collections so much less than those of the grand masters, who feel the clothes in a much more instinctive way. "This is couture you can really wear," Mabille enthused after the show, but actually it was a boy's dream of Paris fashion, gorgeously complete in its solipsism. There was scarcely an outfit that wouldn't have worked a miracle in a Hollywood film from the thirties or forties or fifties that called for the heroine to wear "fashion." Take a look at the kimono jacket in pink-lined red satin over a red column dress, or the peignoir of palest blue tulle over a full-skirted gown. The painted faces only emphasized the artificiality of the clothes.