The first look out at Jean-Charles de Castelbajac was a classic nipped-waist sequin shift patterned with dripping silver dollar signs. For those who have followed the veteran designer's financial woes since last season, the message was clear: de Castelbajac is in the money, and the future is shiny bright.

His white knight, a Korean company called EXR, now owns the label outright and has big plans, including 30 new stores to be opened next year and a third line called Ligne that the designer describes as "French preppy." With a new lower tier, de Castelbajac said he wanted his first line to be "almost like couture," divested of many of the cartoony elements that he's made his name on. Well, sort of. He called Spring Rustica Galactica and described it as a meeting of the future and the past. That means his Mickey Mouse print now comes on a classic French tapestry fabric cut into a ladylike skirtsuit and shift dress, and a windowpane-patterned shift has shades of YSL's Mondrian moment, but with Mickey Mouse ears. "Piet Disney," he cracked. Flip up the collar on a bourgeois jute trench jacket and you'll find an embroidered face staring back at you.

The question is whether de Castelbajac removed even slightly from his beloved wacky world makes sense. He seems to have made a respectable bid for seriousness. Look close and that trench has seams and edges finished quite beautifully in black satin, and his studio manager hails recently from Carven. What the future holds remains to be seen, though it's quite likely that, no matter what, his classics will retain their twisted twist. As the French say, le plus ça change…