At least one of the reference points in David Neville and MarcusWainwright’s spring collection needed no explanation: Ninetiesminimalism. It was the lineup’s defining characteristic, reflective ofthe ongoing, impressive influence of Helmut Lang and yet handled withconfidence and cool in the hands of Neville and Wainwright.

Wainwright acknowledged that the stripped-down look — which reliedheavily on black, white and a lot of leather — was a new game for them.“It’s a big shift from last season,” he said backstage before the show.“It’s ballsy but you have to take a risk.” With it comes reward, as thedesigners proved they can veer from the English tailoring and men’swear-inspired look that’s the cornerstone of the line, without going outof bounds.

Oversize jackets, box-pleated skirts and crispskirting were descended from classic Savile Row cuts, their precisioncast in the new light of a minimalist palette and spare edge. Agenerously cut blush leather jacket worn over a tiny black cropped topwith spaghetti straps and slouchy suede pants that folded over at thewaist (traditional Japanese military uniforms also played into the mood)exemplified the clothes’ boyish side. There was also a terrificsubversion of preppy sportif — tennis, anyone? — via tight polo tops,one worn with a sharp black leather wrap skirt, and riffs on the iconictennis sweater, their racy necklines plunging far below the country clubstandard.

For its focus on the pure side of sporty, thecollection was inherently feminine. Shots of pink and light purple,whether on suede culottes or shiny crinkled dresses, softened the starkattitude. And in the case of the most utilitarian looks — two slimjumpsuits improbably based on pinafores from “Little House on thePrairie” — the effect was an offbeat sex appeal.

Neville andWainwright also pushed their accessories, offering a diverse array ofcross-body bags — large and small — in embossed leathers and interestingcolors like lavender, as well as megaplatform shoes that made astatement while managing to look comfortable.

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