c.2012 New York Times News Service

Will the fashion audience tire of Pugh and switch channels? Not likely, if his haunting, goose-pimple-inducing show at the opening of Paris Fashion Week was any indication.

Whether by luck or by elemental manipulation, a fantastic rainstorm began to pound the glass skylights of a smoggy gallery at the Palais de Tokyo at the very moment the first models appeared on Pugh's runway on Tuesday, as if to reinforce the gloomy mood of his soundtrack "Llorando," the Rebekah Del Rio cover of Roy Orbison's "Crying" that was made famous in "Mulholland Drive" with thunderous raindrops.

The collection had a darkly Spanish flare, with models shrouded beneath black mantillas or stiff silvery silk infanta jackets that blended into their beautiful gowns, making them into dark smudges along the catwalk. Its influences, as usual for Pugh, extended to the futuristic and the Japanese (like the knitting needles in the models' hair). But with unexpected pops of red on a feathery fringed scarf dress and on a more challenging ensemble of a blouse and pants worn with a suspended flounce skirt the collection also had depth.

And depth is a constant challenge for designers who inhabit the darker side of Paris fashion. At Mugler, the creative director Nicola Formichetti and the women's designer Sebastien Peigne made a lot of noise by announcing their first handbag, and another Lady Gaga song, but they should have let the clothes speak for themselves. They were quite decent: shorter dresses in oxblood and butterscotch colors, with peekaboo panels of kicky pleats; a tunic and short skirt made of neatly folded caramel calfskin; a molded black patent skirt that looked like vinyl. A handbag, dears, is not news.

Formichetti said he was thinking of tropical cities. Funny, Olivier Rousteing of Balmain said he was inspired by Cuba (and Sade and her style of wearing men's blazers over bra tops). Balmain has been a lot more upbeat since his arrival last year, and intricately constructed dresses that are delightfully ostentatious are becoming his specialty.

On Thursday, he showed minidresses crafted of panels of woven raffia to look like wicker chairs. A new super-duper power shoulder on black leather biker jackets went beyond masculine and into linebacker territory, which looked comical but will probably be influential with a little watering down.

Before Angelina Jolie made a thing of the thigh-high skirt slit, there was the promising newcomer Anthony Vaccarello, whose dresses have so many slices and dices that they could be used to grate cheese. For his spring collection, which was mostly black and white (and a little silver), he refined that look and made it more acceptable for street wear. Rather than slits, there were zippers, running at odd angles across skirts, and safari shirts with random panels of fine pleats.

Models adore Vaccarello, and the endorsement of Anja Rubik and Karlie Kloss in his hip-bone-baring concoctions has made him a rising star here. But who else could wear his clothes? Rubik closed the show in a long black dress that was part evening wear, part swimsuit, managing, no doubt to Jolie's chagrin, to reveal her entire right leg at all times.