By  on February 28, 2008

Black had a strong presence, along with some grays and neutrals, as designers favored simple palettes for jackets with a men's wear flavor and dresses with more feminine silhouettes.

Akris: The show notes at Akris promised "a new softness." But Albert Kriemler's take on softness is still as razor-sharp as ever. The designer built on last season's linear motifs and brought them down a thematic notch for a more polished and refined fall outing. There is no denying Kriemler's knack for sharp tailoring, proved here in spades with lean stovepipe pants, perfectly fitted jackets and trim, crisp coats in a mostly muted palette of neutrals, grays and browns. It shone through, as well, in his spare-but-exacting military cuts. Kriemler made a strong and solid case for a narrow, elongated — not to mention polite — silhouette, at times accessorized with an ultralong scarf. That linear notion was repeated in everything from tight knife pleats to vertical strips on sheaths. But it's here, in the tricked-out trappings, that the message got muddled. Ditto for some of the eveningwear with fussy flourishes, which don't seem suited to the traditional Akris customer.

Costume National: Austere with a futuristic edge: That was Ennio Capasa's leitmotif in a collection rife with viable options for girls looking for a dark edge. Skirts came with a sculpted wavelike detail at the back or pleated, darted and paired with fitted tunics. Tailoring was a major story, with high-waisted trousers and sleek coats offsetting modernist dresses with three-dimensional folds. Capasa, who worked mostly in black, white and blue, called the show Galaxy Couture, though there weren't many flights of fancy. But the designer knows how to keep his feet on the ground.

Andrew Gn: Opulent finery is right up Andrew Gn's alley. His beautiful and intricate collection catered to a certain uptown gal (the kind who still lunches and relies on her personal assistant to pick up the clothes from the cleaners). A cashmere coat with basket-weave collar and cuffs? Gn's got that. How about a jacket with mink trim? Check. Crave a delicate lace coat? Gn's your man. The designer said Oscar Wilde's dandy style inspired the likes of a chic Edwardian jacket and silk blouses with just the right dose of ruffles. Sleek trousers paired with coats with frayed braiding decoration and long, elegant satin gowns, one with shimmering embroidery at the bust, further underscored why Gn has become the go-to guy with the social set, who love his couture-inspired clothes.

Loewe: A lilac asymmetric bustier gown in butter-soft napa was one fine indication of the direction in which Loewe's new creative director, Stuart Vevers, wants to take the Spanish leather goods house, lightening up its core pieces. The styling of his first collection's 20 looks further underlined the point, pairing an old-school, full black lace skirt with a slim gold and chocolate lamé blouse, for example, or boyish riding boots with a ladylike silk faille bow dress. Men's wear references were rife, seen in a chunky alpaca wool jacket, say; wool pleat-front pants, or a green leather parka worn over a mini. Of the broad leather goods assortment, highlights included a toffee-hued ponyskin handbag hand-painted with the line's signature scarf motif, as well as an oversize ostrich travel bag in deep navy.

Azzaro: Vanessa Seward has made sultry glamour her calling card. The designer continued to turn up the heat at Azzaro via sexy minidresses with plunging backs and beguiling Empire-waist gowns dappled with rhinestones. Tunic minidresses, halter styles and a short jacquard lamé number rounded out Seward's seductive looks.

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