Fashion week provided a fine juxtaposition, displaying slim, clean looks as well as those that were liquid and layered. With either approach, both work in a perfectly pretty way.

Narciso Rodriguez: It doesn't take rocket science to figure out that austerity is more difficult to manipulate than abundance. In trying to satiate the communal thirst for new-new-new, a less-is-more type of designer has one of the toughest jobs in fashion. Recently, working through that reality has been a particular challenge for Narciso Rodriguez, whose old-school reverence for the craft and subtlety of cut has at times resulted in movement too cryptic to appreciate from the runway. Not so with the collection Rodriguez showed Tuesday night. It featured the designer's minimalist mantra in a beautiful lineup that felt not only new, but, at a moment when so many designers here are going the fussy-lady route, necessary.

Typically, Rodriguez kept most of his cuts reed-thin and sexy. The difference came in the execution of his splice-and-seam signature, now more overt and high contrast, yet sans a single gratuitous stroke. The results ranged from ergonomic sensuality to a snappy geometry that at times hinted at Mod. For variety, he worked in structured and fluid fabrics, often inserting panels of one into the other. And though he worked mostly in contrasting neutrals, shots of pink provided pizzazz.

When Rodriguez digressed from lean mode, it was with terrific, structured coats with bold piping and with a surprisingly girlish dropped-waist cocktail dress. More often, however, evening was a playful shimmy affair with carefree tanks aquiver with paillettes — saucy digressions amidst a lineup of high chic.

Michael Kors: Michael Kors has a long-standing Ali MacGraw fixation, partly because her style was her own and not the painted-on stroke of a stylist. "She once told me," Kors said before his show, "that when she put that cap on and went out, she had no idea she'd start a frenzy." It's exactly that kind of polished, casual chic that Kors has made his professional raison d'être. After 25 years in the business, he still revels in the great classics of American sportswear, so much so that at this point he classifies some — cabled sweaters, peacoats, tartans and plaids — as "Michael Kors-isms."

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