Dennis Basso's dress business is picking up. "I've immersed myself in it," he said the day before his Spring runway show. All those gowns have to be worn somewhere, and Basso says he gets orders for everything from mother-of-the-bride ensembles to debutante gowns. But part of this dress push is most certainly a red-carpet play, too, which might be why he drew from the glamour of Old Hollywood favorites like Ava Gardner and Jane Russell to guide this season.

Good thing the staid reference wasn't literal. "This wasn't about creating a vintage look," he said. And the collection was better for it. The most striking numbers were sky blue, covered in almost abstract tangerine florals. But they were nearly equaled by an oh-so-pale pink and blue ball gown. For day, a little white organza dress with bustier detailing was youthful and just sexy enough.

Dresses may have been in the majority, but a Dennis Basso collection doesn't exist without fur and exotic skins. This time around, he used broadtail best. A black and white broadtail vest was belted like a peplum top over a white organza dress with black geometric shapes, and a white moto jacket looked cute over a black floral frock. Colored alligator surfaced yet again in tiny vests: It must do well, because Basso can't seem to let it lie.