Vera Wang: Move over, Mussolini. Yours isn't the only revolution to inspire a designer this fall. The Bolsheviks are also getting their moment du mode, courtesy of Vera Wang. The designer spun an elaborate reverie inspired by early 20th-century Russia and its various charismatic camps — her rally of revolutionaries and kerchiefed peasants broken up by some Swarovski-ed gals more of the Romanov persuasion. (What? You thought the high-low thing was invented yesterday?)

The theme allowed Wang to wax ever-romantic while working the artistic mood that has become her ready-to-wear signature. And it resulted in some absolutely breathtaking clothes, even if too often they had to battle through the presentation's lack of subtlety — all the headgear, piles and flying appendages — for attention.

In the end, it was worth the fight. At a time when other designers are scaling back on the romance, embellishment and any trace of exotica, Wang embraced all of the above. She started with structure, last season's dancer's flou replaced by sturdier fare — a proletarian cutaway shearling over short pants, stiff lantern skirts, rugged boots touched with jewels. There were A-line dresses in stiff taffetas, tunics over short skirts and lots of take-to-the-streets layerings, often punctuated with a dark-hued coat and major knit action in a heavy bonnet, scarf or kerchief. Once or twice Wang even stepped back from all the stuff, sending out a pair of gorgeously sober dresses with jeweled medallions on one shoulder.

Evening was a less proletarian affair. Then, try as they might, Wang's melancholy bejeweled waifs couldn't hide their true tsarist inclinations under even the most overt babushkas. So let the revolution come; win or lose, these girls will look dazzling in defeat.

Calvin Klein: At Calvin Klein, Francisco Costa offered a manifesto of a different sort: a smart, cool treatise on architectural minimalism. The collection he showed on Thursday was light years away from last season's miscalculation, a fresh, sexy show worthy of the house moniker.

Costa's clothes displayed no evidence of soundbite-worthy inspiration, although he said that the curvy dresses owed a debt to Elizabeth Taylor in "Butterfield 8." Perhaps so, but without a smidgen of retro. Rather, he worked from a sharp modernist ethos that focused firmly on cut and fabric — both of which were shown off to maximum effect in an austere, almost all-gray palette.Costa examined, and often contrasted, two proportions. His loose, structural outerwear bore interesting elements of construction, for example, a sturdy wool coat with a notch collar that became a deep vertical fold in back, or the raglan-sleeved wool and silk jacket over a drawstring hem skirt. Conversely, his skirts and dresses, some of which fell from padded shoulders for a controlled Space Age effect, were superskinny, so much so that one or two were tough for the models to negotiate in their mile-high sexpot shoes. More often, however, the girls looked like power babes of the most confident sort — sleek and ever in control.

Costa softened the mood just barely with a pair of gray lace dresses and with knitwear that riffed on Aran classics, the cables now reengineered for a dose of attitude — just the kind of attitude that chic minimalism requires.

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