Dark, somber looks aren't the only game in town. Think chic, sophisticated, real-life clothes and airily beautiful ones, for instance.

Yves Saint Laurent: On the one hand, defiant alternatives to overt trend mongering are essential, and Stefano Pilati deserves praise for picking up that mantle. His still-in-development vision for Yves Saint Laurent is that of a house dedicated to grown-up, sensible sportswear. Quirky blouses done up with pert jabots, and tulip skirts aplenty are just the sort of fanciful, dressed-up daywear that should keep Pilati's fashion-y clients plenty pleased.

On the other hand, he has yet to find his comfort zone. The collection he showed for fall bore no visible connection to the work of Saint Laurent the man, and was weighted down with a feeling the French would call lourd — heavy. Weighty fabrics and some too-obvious decoration made for heaviness of mood and appearance, delivered with precision polish that looked — probably unintentionally — more than a bit Eighties.

He cut thick tweeds in well-rounded jackets and balloon skirts. He trimmed oversize coats with spiky black spines and stiff minidresses with lengths of slinky gold chain. There was more gold to be found, flecked in the hem of a mini or tiled into eccentric Egyptian-esque evening tunics, which were worn over matching sheer pants. The finale: a hot pink number worn with a cape of roses. Too often the complications superseded the chic. But one sensed that beneath the stiff pomp lurked a chic collection struggling to fight its way out.

Rochas: Olivier Theyskens lives by an ethos of calm — something of an anomaly in fashion. That tranquility manifests itself dually in his work, both in his pensive, graceful aesthetic and in the manner in which he has chosen to develop the Rochas business.

While much of his competition jumps from one seasonal theme to the next, Theyskens has been content to refine the gentle melancholia that has become his signature — and which, by the way, has turned into a major influence. At the same time, he started getting serious about day clothes only last season. For fall, he developed them further, while delivering his signature moodiness sans the aggression seen elsewhere.

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