Power. It’s the ultimate aphrodisiac. At Calvin Klein, it’s also asubstantial business reality: an American fashion powerhouse and enginebehind parent Phillips Van Heusen’s success. That’s the only plausiblereason why the Occupy Wall Street movement would plan a march outsideThursday’s Calvin Klein Collection show. In the end, however, theturnout of just a handful of protesters was weak.

By contrast, theidea of real strength was the central theme for Francisco Costa and hisbold fall collection. “It’s very Bauhaus, but about the Bauhaus woman ofthe 1920s,” he said before the show. “She had strength, she was verypowerful.” But Costa’s architectural ode to the strong woman didn’ttranslate into female warriors. The designer took the theme on with amore subtle hand, sending out appealing clothes in ultrafemininesilhouettes — almost paradoxically so — starting with the first exit: ablack wool mohair A-line coat cinched at the waist with a wide silverbelt. Another example came with the cropped burnt-orange cashmeresweater worn over a matching shift dress.

His use of thick woolsresulted in several great coats, but a few of the dresses in similarfabrics looked heavy. Costa added a touch of tough via leather, whichwas shown, for instance, on a shift dress with exposed white panellingin the side pleats, and on a sleeveless dress with a black top and astructured white, fluid skirt.

The overall effect — theall-black set, the slow thump of the soundtrack and the models’ graphichair, slicked sideways or cropped with cut bangs like Rooney Mara, whosat in the front row — was indeed powerful, but the reality of theclothes had a softer side: ladylike and charming, even with a Fiftiescouture touch.

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