Alexis Mabille was recently made an official member of the haute couture club. It's a rarefied clique, with only 16 other houses on the list. Before his show tonight, he said he set out to impress the Federation with his technique. "In the past, I focused on structure," he said. "Here I concentrated on the craftsmanship—what we can do for the client." His attentions paid off. This was a finer outing than usual, less zany than many a Mabille show past.

It started with his focus on separates—not daywear, per se, but not red-carpet bait either. He established the more intimate feeling from the first look, a pleated organza camisole strewn with lace, accompanied by a pair of tapered radzimir pants. (Pants have begun turning up with some frequency at the couture shows since Raf Simons' debut at Dior.) A sleeveless button-down with an embroidered bib and an ombré-dyed tiered and pleated floor-length skirt struck a more formal but nonetheless versatile note.

Mabille didn't rein things in entirely. His penchant for bows got the better of him on more than one occasion, and a point d'esprit catsuit with a Chantilly lace overskirt was misjudged. Still, his friend and front-row guest Dita Von Teese will have options when she visits the atelier. A coral silk crepe evening gown with an origami rose bustier will make the most of her assets, but a double-breasted black smoking dress with a slit up to there would also look smashing on the burlesque star.