Whether it was a picnic-worthy gingham frock or a cut-to-there maillot, the spring runways had many flirtatious options on offer.

Alberta Ferretti: After a season or two of a more polished, urban sensibility, Alberta Ferretti's inner goddess has spoken. She reclaimed her trademark twisting, tucking and draping techniques with gusto, sending out a legion of ethereal beauties swathed in jersey and chiffon dresses, some of which were cut high in the front and draped low in the back for a discreet sexiness. Pants were few and far between — three looks of the swishing, wide-leg sort. Save for a few floor-sweeping goddess gowns, like the soft mint green and white styles, Ferretti mainly addressed the cocktail crowd. All manner of romantic party frocks, mostly above the knee and embellished with rhinestone rosettes and armor-like chain mail, floated by with some shiny, pleated bubbled coats that added a modern touch. On the shortest side, toga-like minidresses and skirts worn with metallic gladiator flats channeled a pastoral nymphet. Not all designers can drape and twist like Ferretti, and she's right to flaunt those skills. But she should be careful not to mine Mount Olympus too much.

MaxMara: You can't dumb down Yohji Yamamoto. And why try, especially if your bread and butter is chic, tony, understandable clothes? The collection MaxMara presented on Thursday morning was an amalgamation of men's wear tailoring, athletic references and pink side trips, much of it twisted, turned, bunched and gathered up with a Japanese-inspired bow. The mannish mood clunked from the get-go, especially in those jackets cut with room to grow — about 50 pounds' worth. The bunching felt forced, and the reappearing pink cellophane, like an Easter gift from a messed-up bunny. The point of staging a slick editorial show should be to enhance rather than disguise what a house does best. Unfortunately, the opposite happened here.

Emilio Pucci: American Southwest by way of Japan is the best way to describe Matthew Williamson's most recent Pucci effort. With such disparate themes, it's no wonder he wandered off course. And, guess what, he also invoked the Seventies with a whiff of early-Eighties here and there. Feathered and fringed vests, crocheted ponchos, kimono sleeves, obi belts and slinky, fully sequined floor-length gowns threatened sensory overload, while boxy button-down shirts and tapered pleated pants left one scratching one's head. Of course, chief to Pucci are the prints. Williamson gave them a Navajo twist, turning the curlicues into angular patterns in dusty desert hues and pink-black-blue. They worked on dashiki-like shirts and dresses and beachy gowns. But Williamson was most successful where he had the least to work with: a colorful crocheted maillot worn by Anja Rubik.Dsquared: Dan and Dean Caten wanted to give their Dsquared girls a tune-up for spring, and what better person to assist than pop divette Rihanna, who pulled up in a vintage car inside a faux garage and then sauntered down the runway — and she walked like a pro. By now, the brothers have built a solid aesthetic around a sporty, sexy, at times frivolous girl, whose only care seems to be how high her heels can go or how fast her car can ride. This season, they gave her a little more glitter and a lot more glam, outfitting her in a series of ultrashort dresses — from cotton shifts to silk baby dolls with molded cups — always adorned with an ample heaping of gems and hardware. Tossed in were some seriously tiny bathing suits and a few terrific leather cocoon coats. "Every moment has a red carpet, so you have to give the girls what they want," Dean said. And did they ever. While some of the pieces, like the diamond-encrusted silk caftans, bordered on drag queen fare, the sultry collection offered those paparazzi princesses-in-waiting enough fodder for a 24/7 red-carpet world.

Luisa Beccaria: While other designers are mining the Seventies or Japanese inspirations, Luisa Beccaria stuck to her Sugar Plum Princess formula with a flurry of chiffons served up in myriad variations. But what looked freshest here were her charming fruit-basket prints and gingham checks, which added a sweet naïveté to her lineup. Beccaria worked the romantic vein with hourglass frocks, sundresses, bell skirts and frilly swimsuits.

Giuliana Teso: Spring isn't usually a season in which furriers can flex their creative muscles, but Giuliana Teso has found a new outlet for those warmer months: a chic clothing collection skewed toward the original Ladies-Who-Lunch crowd. This first full ready-to-wear collection boasted wonderful hand details — intricate beading on the back of cocktail dresses and roped leather braiding on the cuffs and hems of butter-soft leather dusters — and sumptuous materials, like double-face cashmere, cut as a terrific strapless dress with satin trim. Meanwhile a crisp cotton skirt and matching cropped jacket popped thanks to a golden Lurex weave, which proves one needn't be wrapped in mink to look luxurious.Agnona: The house's new team of designers wiped the slate clean — literally — and presented a focused collection of white, Sunday-afternoon party dresses in double-face cashmere, broderie anglaise and a linen-silk blend for a sweetly contemporary take on classic dressing.Brioni: A design team reportedly put together the 15-piece, all-white ensemble of haberdashery coats, pleated pants and precision blouses, but the cocoon arms, hand-basting, waist details and playful volumes seemed like a more approachable version of ex-designer Cristina Ortiz's creations.

Les Copains: This house is all about commercial appeal, and there was no going wrong with the plethora of whites and neutrals — vests over pants, sundresses, boxy knits and raincoats — intermingled with knit dresses in coral and gray.

Schumacher: Designer Dorothee Schumacher-Singhoff straddled two sides of dressing — Audrey Hepburn chic and voluminous, free-flowing chiffons — for a commercial collection with plenty of appeal.

Neil Barrett: Neil Barrett's spring collection — rife with sculpted jackets, shirred tops and cutout waistcoats — offered a blueprint for those women looking to streamline their wardrobe and fill it with a few well-designed, evergreen pieces.

Brunello Cucinelli: Sweating it out at Brunello Cucinelli was a stylish affair as the designer wrapped his sportif customers in cashmere track tops, finely spun jersey tanks and sweat pants.

Loro Piana: Crisp linens, silky knits and a heaping dose of technically savvy luxury — this season in the form of a cashmere-lined waterproof poncho — always make Loro Piana a perennial favorite for the functional fashionista.

Belstaff: Barely a motorcycle jacket in sight and that made the spring collection one of its most interesting to date, thanks to parachute skirts, voluminous parkas with neon seaming and slinky aviator suits.

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