Dries Van Noten: Richly embroidered, unabashedly romantic and, at times, nostalgic, Dries Van Noten distilled his trademarks into a fine collection. Over the years, this Belgian has stuck to his own aesthetic. And while some may have believed that his well-deserved ethnic label would ultimately run into a cul-de-sac, he has evolved it boldly. Recently, the results have been more assured and more beautiful. Fall was a case in point. Opulent embellishment came with a nod to Venice, Istanbul and Peking — plus a dash of the Twenties and Bloomsbury. This meant lavish Chinese embroidered jackets paired with loose silk pajama trousers and chiffon dresses printed with giant pansies. They were the feminine side of the equation. But, inspiration also came from tailoring, with tweed overcoats, suits with cropped pants and bulky sweaters with geometric motifs. Fur made it into Van Noten’s vocabulary for the first time. But he did it like an old pro, with coats in bold colors fashioned with giant flowers.

Hussein Chalayan: Miss Marple might have better luck pinpointing Hussein Chalayan’s message, which neither his show nor his clothes seemed able to transmit. The collection’s title, “Anthropology of Solitude,” didn’t offer any clues. So let’s start with the facts: In the beginning, his clothes projected an aura of restrained cool. Chalayan crossed an elongated black baseball jacket with a classic toggle coat to create a chic new hybrid. His artfully sweet peplumed jackets buttoned onto matching deconstructed sailor pants or simple skirts. He showed shearlings with high fleece collars and drapy sundresses in soothing cocoa-and-cream prints. Well done!

But in the midst of all these niceties — clunk, clunk — out came knee-length skirts with pagoda-pointed hips. Showing one would have indicated a slipup. Showing them relentlessly, and paired with a smattering of great jackets, was plain, old weird. Then came pouf dresses cut in a collage print of Iron Curtain-propaganda iconography, introducing a political element into the fray. Fashion shouldn’t be this puzzling.

Chalayan is a good designer. His most intricate dresses, embroidered around their waists with off-kilter propaganda figurines, demonstrated his impeccable execution. He showed clothes that prove his capacity to be a commercially viable designer, should he choose to pursue that path. And he sent out the fancy stuff that demonstrates his deft handiwork. What was lacking, however, was a strong sense of Chalayan’s point of view, which could have pulled it all together.Givenchy: No one ever said designing a collection was easy. And if you need any verification, just ask Julien Macdonald, who— let’s face it — has struggled more than anyone to provide a commercially viable, let alone a captivating, vision for Givenchy. At his fall collection, which will undoubtedly be his last for the house, there were moments of lightness that seemed to smooth over the rough patches — but only for a moment. These included looks that merged the demure with a steamier element, like a pale gray shirt that tied primly at the neck and was worn under a gray wool sheath dress, and another cloudy combination of a gray sparkle tweed jacket and black capri pants.

As for the rest of the collection, suffice it to say it was a far-flung mélange of bizarre boleros, artsy inside-out bustier dresses, pyramidal party gowns and archival looks that defied resurrection.

Veronique Branquinho: Veronique Branquinho is the quiet type — you know, the kind of girl who never takes a postshow bow, and her clothes always follow suit. Branquinho showed at a theater in Montmartre, creating a moody forest with projected trees, smoke-machine mist and a soundtrack courtesy of “Edward Scissorhands.”

Groups of models circled the floor in elongated tweed bomber and hunting jackets paired with floor-sweeping skirts, seemingly a staple chez Branquinho, this time slit up the back to reveal a bit of lace. Peak-shouldered suitings mingled calmly with another of her staples, the granny shirtdress, this time in brown or black chiffon with a sprinkling of glitter on the sleeves. It was all a bit too moody, though, and the best moments were in a lighter vein — a twist-front brown jersey dress, paneled skirts or a cheeky waistcoat brightened with cobalt sequins, and that aforementioned granny dress with a sheer tulle plunge panel for the girl who doesn’t necessarily want to look like her nana. The show closed with the soundtrack booming, “The sun will come out tomorrow.” We believe it, Veronique, but do you?

Martin Grant: With his name being floated as a potential replacement for Michael Kors at Celine, many people figured that Martin Grant’s fall collection was the ultimate job interview. The Australian-born Grant, who has generated buzz as interest surges in the ladylike look, did a fine job. With its subtle nod to the Fifties, his collection would appeal to the Audrey Hepburn type. Grant’s strong point is coats. The slim-shouldered models with slightly exaggerated collars and leather detailing were among the best looks of the show. They weren’t revolutionary, but they had allure. This held true for the rest of the collection, particularly a tweed dress with a mini cape, a satin cocktail number and the high-waisted trousers. Grant is making polite, good-looking clothes with a subtle personality. Sounds like a good strategy.

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