Diane von Furstenberg titled her spring collection Beginnings, which she found particularly appropriate on the anniversary of 9/11. “It’s about light and what light can do and how light changes everything,” she said backstage beforehand. “I did something I’ve never done before — I started with white.” She opened with a refreshing take on the wrap dress, not in her signature slinky jersey but in a crisp cotton for a shirtdress with a full circle skirt that appeared tied on. Three equally fresh white looks followed but this was not von Furstenberg’s poetic metaphor for New York 10 years later. In fact, the collection was largely inspired by a land far away — Africa. “Not colonial Africa and not African safari, but Africa of today,” she explained. In her, and her creative director Yvan Mispelaere’s eyes, that manifested into a combination of layers, textures, resourcefulness and elegance, all of which played out over the course of 49 looks that, show-openers aside, were a vibrant, colorful lot. There were also placid solids — cool lime green, powder blue and violet — as well as boisterous jumbo floral prints that came jumbled up as the designers experimented with various lengths and layering. For example, a blue and white floral jacket and pencil skirt were worn with a top that fell into giant utility pockets.

Engaging though the theme was, von Furstenberg is a proponent of cultural cross-pollination. She laced the lineup with plenty of retro glamour. The models wore their hair swept up into beehives, some took on the personas of glamour in circle skirts and Sixties-ish beaded shifts; others were neat tomboys in tailored Bermuda shorts and blazers. Perhaps that was von Furstenberg’s patriotic side coming through. As she said, “I’m feeling very American today.”

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