NEW YORK — Legions of Upper East Siders flocked to the Consulate General of the Russian Federation to attendMaggie Norris’ American Couture collection fall show. But first, they had to wait in a very long — albeit chic — line to pass through security. Once inside, guests sipped cocktails and perused items from the small silent auction to benefit the American Friends of the Hermitage Museum that followed the show.

Called "Ballada," which means "fable" in Russian, Norris’ opulent collection was inspired by Saint Petersburg during the reign of Czar Nicholas. Exquisitely crafted corsets, tailored jackets dripping with beadwork, draped skirts in Chantilly lace or paisley jacquard and velvet evening gowns glistening with phoenix embroideries all smacked of Russian decadence. The construction of these pieces is impeccable, the fabrics, rich and the details, special. The looks are lavished with energy and thought. Norris seeks out highly skilled artisans with whom to collaborate on her made-to-order pieces and she focuses equal attention on the presentation and image of her line. But her lofty inspirations are often realized too literally, and her most magnificent pieces often get lost in both the grandeur of the styling and the pomp of her presentations.

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