PHOTOS BY JOHN AQUINO, GEORGE CHINSEE, GIOVANNI GIANNONI, THOMAS IANNACCONE AND ROBERT MITRA

H Hilfiger: No, there was no live band, but Tommy Hilfiger’s new H Hilfiger collection doesn’t need one. In the calm of his showroom on Tuesday, Hilfiger presented a terrific collection, one sure to become an anchor of the burgeoning “better better” category that’s suddenly all the rage among the designer set. Here, Hilfiger is going for a career focus, clearly distinguishing H from the more casual “Tommy Flag Hilfiger,” as the original line is referred to in-house. To that end, he provided all of the building blocks essential for a pulled-together look — trenches, jackets, sleek skirts — but with a relaxed attitude. “It will be slightly younger [than the competition],” he said, “and casual career, because young women today dress casually for work.”

That could mean a look as breezy as a striped cotton tank and layered polkadot silk skirt in blue and white, a delightful riff on Hilfiger’s Ithaca shirting stripes, or as polished as a chic trench and satin pencil skirt. He offered a good balance between tailored and relaxed pieces, and despite the overall unfettered mood, worked ample details into the clothes. Case in point: A shapely striped jacket with a hint of silver over a mini wrap skirt.

“Should I have put this on the runway?” Hilfiger mused, alluding to this paper’s review of his collection last week. He then explained why he didn’t, noting that he wanted people to leave the show thinking “music, color and fun,” and that, while such runway clothes never make it to department stores, they do influence the company’s offerings. Hilfiger then articulated the nasty fear that can sometimes derail runway shows, especially of designers whose strength lies in smart, grounded sportswear. “Any time we show highly salable looks on the runway, I feel it tends to bore the audience,” he said. But Tommy, our communal audience ennui just may be our problem and not yours — especially when the clothes look this good and timely. Why not Reality Runway? Hey, it works for TV.

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