PARIS, October 8, 2006 - The Paris season effectively ended on Sunday with a strong showing by Alber Elbaz for Lanvin, and even as groups of fashion-weary editors filed out of L'École des Beaux Arts into the gathering evening, they took with them a bit of the energy the show had just imparted.

Alber's genius is in knowing what women want to wear and then making clothes which fit with their lifestyle, a fact that he as much as acknowledged backstage after the show.

"Women changed. I didn't change," he said, by way of explanation of the contemporary tone of the Lanvin spring collection.

The look was sleek and urban, full of exquisite dressmaking. There was a futurism to the lurex dresses and zippered cargo suits. There was a silvery thread of eroticism in the plunging neckline of a one-strap evening piece, and the split skirt of a flittering toga-dress. Elsewhere, trenches flared in tandem with short skirts, and wavy appliqué decorated, or dare one say, highlighted, the bodice in a series of cocktail dresses.

But it's the casual simplicity that works about Lanvin. In understating, Alber has actually spotlighted the finesse of the label. These were modern clothes for modern women, and it's hard to imagine pieces with more spirit of couture.

Before the show, paparazzi were divided between Janet Jackson making her seventh appearance this week, and Natalie Portman, making her first.

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