Some of the recent fall collections were all about the pretty and polished, with designers turning out simple cocktail dresses, smart little jackets and great-looking patterned coats.

Chado Ralph Rucci: As always, for his Chado Ralph Rucci collection, Ralph Rucci showed detailed clothes with superb cut and craftsmanship in exquisite materials, albeit with his typical architectural pomp. Still, what distinguished this line from previous efforts was the sheer number of accessible clothes. His lemon-colored cashmere jacket and the deep forest green high-necked cashmere coat, for example, didn't suffer any of the Rucci tricks, but rather were enriched by a monotoned paisley embroidery. The snug, sexy sheaths with tiered lace overlay worked a light-handed flirtiness, a rare treat in a Rucci collection. And the black silk velvet off-the-shoulder gown reflected the best of his talents — a perfect mix of cut, artistic flair and drama.

Zac Posen: Just ask Drew Barrymore — growing up in the public eye can be a tough, slow process. Zac Posen, all of 25, continues to experience his own growing pains, mired in conflict between youthful notions of glamour and the realities of modern dressing. Caught in the middle: his overwrought fall presentation, too much by day — the shoulders, the snakeskin, the ponderous silhouettes — and by night — full skirts, feathers and a pair of models wrapped so tightly they couldn't walk. Which is a shame, because Posen has made considerable strides. On the upside, a demure plaid dress, sporty jackets and skirts, a terrific peacoat, and for when the lady wants to be a vamp, a smartly cabled mink-and-lamb trenchcoat, all featured interesting — but reasonable — quirks of construction. And at night, when he controlled the urge to overflex his considerable technical muscles, he came up with a chic navy satin sheath and a terrifically effortless silver sack dress. But these looks needed some toned-down company. Would that Posen could relax, flip through a few celebrity tabloids, watch the starlets banter with Letterman, pay attention to the comings and goings of thirtysomething socials. Which is not to say he should design to the blandest common denominator. But like it or not, these are casual times, and most women just don't feel comfortable in highly complicated clothes.

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