Designers lightened up this season. Luxe, fluid and easy looks floated down the New York runways for spring, showing off the drape, curve and cut of all things crisp and chic.

Michael Kors: While divining the mood of his spring collection, Michael Kors established a strict set of guidelines: Deliver au courant severity. Retain charm. Banish the ho.

A tall order, certainly, but Kors achieved all of the above and more, wrapping his self-imposed requirements in a mood he called "romantic optimism," coloring it with a soupçon of Louise Dahl-Wolfe and a substantial "Giant" moment. And if it's a short stride from Elizabeth Taylor's city girl displaced deep in the heart of Texas to the women of "Deadwood," so be it; either way, Kors never lets even the best fantasy hide his ultrarealistic core.

The designer's big mission was to tone down the flash without becoming a bore. To that end, he mixed austere tailoring with softer pieces, working in black, white and sober neutrals but touched with just the right amount of sparkle. Thus, a delicately embroidered chantilly lace shirt dolled up a sensible khaki skirt; a tiered, golden "Out of Africa" (or the prairie) skirt twinkled under a linen trench and white tank. The whole thing was a feast of pragmatic chic, look after look of terrific pieces rooted in the common sense premise that clothes should be first, last and always, wearable. The exception to the core principle came in discordant camouflage sightings. Whether Kors' sophisticated customer is up for playing soldier at all is questionable; if so, she might love the little miniskirt under a big, cozy sweater, but chances are good she won't shell out for the mink-lined camo coat.

As for Kors' new nemesis, the fashion ho — gone, goodbye, outta here. Even at the beach, courtesy of adorable Grable-worthy eyelet two-piecers and at night, in glamorous gowns worn with a polished casual attitude.

Narciso Rodriguez: In a chat several days before his show, Narciso Rodriguez pointed to a printout of a bold, curved graphic tacked to the wall of his design studio and noted that the motif would appear in his collection. "All of the straight lines," he said, "are much more curved."

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