Has Stacey Bendet gone dark? Hardly.

During her fantastical fall presentation that brought to life a dreamlike, mysterious forest, Bendet noted she aimed to bring a darker, edgier, even sexier mood than what she’s shown the past two seasons. Sure, there were tightly sequined or beaded mini dresses that may not have lived in the Alice + Olivia world before, but the overall mood was pure, unabashed eclecticism.

“The whole theme was fantasia,” she said while taking a break from the paparazzi pit, adding: “We have golden magic mushrooms and crazy rainbow leaves and butterflies! It’s really beautiful.”

Bendet is a wizard when it comes to setting a scene, oftentimes transporting you to far-flung places where her wildly playful clothes are meant to live — though a trapeze through the forest may not be in your distant future. She focused on glamour for fall, and injected eveningwear with a fresh, youthful charm. She swapped florals for electric butterflies on rich, burnout silks, and used statement tees instead of evening tops to go with a sequined rainbow skirt for a feeling that’s more relaxed. (Notable slogans that emphasized her female-first approach to design included “Go Love Yourself” and “Strong Female Protagonist”).

A snowy wonderland was filled with new eveningwear styles, too, including a regal, asymmetrically tiered ballgown skirt styled with a one-shoulder, velvet sequined top, and an equally sophisticated white feathered skirt under one of many new reversible puffer jackets. She topped looks off with crazy headpieces she created just for show: a commendable factor that highlights her dedication to evoking a story. Of the collection, she added: “It’s very emotional, magical and a little sexy. There’s a lot of newness and richness and it’s fun!”

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