By  on February 7, 2008

Pretty is as pretty does. Unfussy florals, bold-hued motifs and chunky knits are just a few of the go-to items for fall's ultracool sophisticate.

Brian Reyes: For fall, Brian Reyes showed a more grown-up side to his ladylike fare. He did away with the short and poufy frocks of seasons past in favor of more sophisticated silhouettes — linear silk shirtdresses and blouses belted over full skirts — that resulted in increased cross-generational appeal. Color and texture are two of Reyes' consistent strengths that he uses to spice up his uptown staples: Vibrant silk moiré in magenta and cobalt blue added depth to otherwise classic trenchcoats and pencil skirts. T-back cutouts on printed dresses also added a level of interest. While not everything was successful, a little experimental imperfection is endearing.

Behnaz Sarafpour: Textiles are Behnaz Sarafpour's true love, and her best collections have merged her eye for fabrics with inventive design twists. This time around, she looked to mid-20th-century artist Sonia Delaunay for inspiration, drawing on Delaunay's "bold colors and geometric shapes." Indeed, Sarafpour infused the lineup of short shifts, tops and jackets with a strong palette — a black wool top got a bright yellow stripe across the middle; a black Lurex dress, purple patterning — but the impact was more dull than daring. The true standouts displayed her unique way with fabrics. A floral-print silk dress, with pintucking at the hips creating an hourglass shape, had just the right amount of edge, as did three charming cocktail dresses, ruffled in ever-so-slightly frayed silk.

Philosophy di Alberta Ferretti: Alberta Ferretti played mix master in her latest presentation, set in the cavernous Eyebeam Gallery. While contrasting a tomboyish element with a more feminine, romantic strain — tweed pants and a slouchy wool coat coupled with a filmy beaded top, for instance — she also combined a bevy of fabrics. To wit, one particularly alluring dress was spliced together from panels of lace and velvet. "The women of today have the freedom to show anything's possible," said Ferretti, noting that ample layering was central to her sensibility. She also worked in a transparency motif, one which gave her typically charming dresses a dose of boudoir vamp.

G-Star Raw: There are few certainties in fashion, but hard-edged, experimental denim and a moving runway at G-Star are two of them. So out came the jeans all dark and slim, this season paired with a sweeping puffer coat with its sleeves lopped off, or with chunky knits worn on their own or added to the bottom half of a long denim coat. Sure, the ski mask-hat combos were creepy, but designer Pierre Morisset has always been one for drama. In fact, Dennis Hopper closed the show scooting down the runway while reciting Rudyard Kipling's "If" to the crowd.

Barbara Tfank: Barbara Tfank's Carlyle Hotel runway locale suited her well — she's got the 10021 market cornered. Her clients are supremely tony and turned out, and for fall, Tfank gave them plenty to keep their wardrobes brimming. Cases in point: the unfussy sheath staples, one with a breezy trapeze back, and some perfectly prim Fifties-inspired frocks in a palette of rich brocades, jewel-tone purples and emerald greens. The real news here, however, was the coats; they came chicly quilted, belted, pleated or decked out with floral motifs of the chrysanthemum and lotus variety.

Matthew Williamson: Staying true to his ethnic hippie sensibility, Matthew Williamson delivered plenty of attention-grabbing frocks, luxe furs and country-cozy knitwear that will probably please the deep-pocketed young things who adore him. For fall, he also toyed with Mexican motifs, spicing up black silk georgette with Technicolor floral embellishments, and working the south-of-the-border vibe on rainbow tweeds and rose-embroidered necklines. When he veered into Day-Glo knits and metallic outerwear, though, Williamson lost some momentum. For example, that pixelated floral-print column dress would have looked best without the fur-trimmed parka.

Nanette Lepore: No surprises at Nanette Lepore, whose consistently retro take on pencil skirts, pretty blouses and flirty dresses has won her a loyal following. Familiar motifs abounded, as with lingerie-esque lace panels on tweed and silk dresses, and high-waisted tulip skirts in wine hues. A Fifties shape is always appealing, but Lepore ought to explore another side of sexy, as she did with a plum knit halter dress that clung to all the right curves. While there's nothing wrong with treading the same path, it would be nice if the designer ventured into more innovative territory.

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