Backstage at Rochas, designer Marco Zanini was quick to point out that it's been four years now that he's been at the label. It's too soon for a greatest-hits collection, but Zanini found himself in a retrospective mood nonetheless. Anybody who's charted his course at Rochas was bound to clock the Zanini-isms: the hoop skirt, the bias-cut silk slipdress, nouveau twinsets, and boxy pantsuits saved from androgyny by their floral prints. Fabrics are his fetish, and he also loves a healthy dose of quirk.

Zanini certainly indulged his oddball tendencies here—see the models' large silk sun visors made by French couture house Lemarié and the soft white leather wrestling boots. But if his quirkiness has sometimes threatened the relevance of his work, it had the opposite effect tonight: Slices of midriff between crisp, cropped blouses and full skirts scored on both the irreverence and trendiness fronts. A polo dress cut from luxe silk faille produced a frisson of the unexpected; it looked surprising and wearable. And it doesn't get more whimsical than a retro bra-and-brief set in a lush chrysanthemum print worn with a matching Watteau-back cape. That one will get a lot of play with the editorial set.

Still, to this editor's eyes, Zanini was at his most powerful when he opted not for tongue-in-cheek, but for just plain chic. A sheath dress cut from palest mint duchesse satin practically knocked you over when it came down the runway, it was that sexy.