No one's gotten a standing ovation this week like Ralph Rucci did today. Rucci fosters a special kind of devotion in his customers. They turn up in droves at his shows modeling their latest acquisitions. Judging by their reactions, Spring is going to be a good season for the designer. In no particular order, the looks that garnered the most applause were a glossy white neoprene coat with exaggerated, rounded sleeves; a signature printed caftan encrusted here and there with clusters of colorful crystals; and a baby pink caviar-beaded catsuit topped by a gazar feathered tunic.

Interspersed among the showpieces were his signature wool crepe skirtsuits and dresses inset more often than not with clear plastic rather than the horsehair he usually uses. Occasionally, those plastic insets grew to deep cuffs on the sleeves of a coat or even the entire back of a jacket. The plastic was a bit of a head-scratcher: Surely it can't be comfortable, which must be a key consideration when spending the kind of money that Rucci's creations demand, but it was significantly less perplexing than a latex trenchcoat the color of surgical gloves. The less said about that, the better.

The music, Ravel's Bolero, added a note of self-seriousness to the proceedings. But Rucci and his fans indicated that their senses of humor are fully intact: he, by sending out a white caviar-beaded blouse and pants accessorized with a tiny white satin apron, and the audience, by cheering for it. His customers, of course, belong to the income bracket in which the help wears the aprons. For the kind of grand evenings that will be clogging up their social calendars next Spring, he sent out two real showstoppers, the first a black matte jersey gown, most of the torso of which was sheer black net, and the second a sleeveless white wool gown fastened only at the neckline in back so it opened to reveal a long cherry red paillette tube skirt. You didn't have to be a fan to appreciate those.