By  on February 7, 2008

Unusual mixes of fabrics ruled the runways, as designers featured everything from Native American styles in stained-glass colors to terra-cotta shearling coats over earthy knits.

Anna Sui: The Aesthetic Movement was very much on Anna Sui's mind as she designed her fall lineup, a characteristically eclectic mix that called upon everything from pre-Raphaelite paintings to Gustav Klimt to, as Sui put it after the show, "the colors of a Tiffany glass lamp." A disparate mélange, yes, and though at moments it veered toward too much, for the most part the collection worked. Sui started with an ode to Native American living, fringing a black faux-suede jacket with a geo-patchwork velvet dress, which was followed by another fringed number, a basket-weave chiffon dress in bright marine blue. Caftans and ponchos were designed to great effect in popping colors and patterns — ikats, paisleys, the aforementioned patchwork — while the more subdued looks, such as a watercolor floral-print velvet dress and a wonderful crepe-de-chine deer-print one, brought to mind what Sui does best: cheerful cocktail fare with a hint of quirk.

Tory Burch: Ladylike with a relaxed sensibility was the premise of Tory Burch's collection, and by the looks of the effortlessly mixed fabrics — metallic tweeds, cotton burlap, even gold jacquard — this lady also has a serious, luxurious sense going on. Burch turned out classic staples (imagine packing for October in Palm Beach), with most working a narrow silhouette. Unexpected finishings were prevalent, as on a bright yellow shift with braided edging and a sleek black tank dress with mirrored crystals running down its front and across the hem. While the patent black booties veered a bit into bondage territory, Burch proved she can work a feminine, preppy aesthetic that doesn't get tired. Sleeveless blouses with voluminous neckties, and a sharp tweed coat with a black bow at the collar amped up the ultraslim shape — one that would have made Hitchcock proud.

Zero + Maria Cornejo: Each season, Maria Cornejo's clothes become more varied and adventurous, always resulting in a quietly fabulous collection. This time, her color blocks and fabric combos were as painterly as they were architectural. Consider a mix of indigo and black on both a shaped lean dress and a concave charmeuse top over a pintucked taffeta skirt. The designer has a talent for keeping things stark — as in her beautifully contoured leather coats — while also creating some fanfare with detail, such as a wool waistcoat over a sequined taffeta dress. All of it with that quirky Cornejo touch.Richard Chai: Richard Chai continued at a strong and steady clip for fall with a sportswear collection that was tight (less than 30 looks) and complete. The mood was fairly casual. A bounty of earthy knits and shirting paired with slouchy slim trousers, which he tweaked in leather, silk, wool and brocade. They were streetwise but not too downtown. Elsewhere, he added shape to a series of washed silks with curving seams, which were also put to great use on terrific shearling coats and vests. Almost everything was hearty enough for the now rare proper winter. But before things got too cozy, five versions of a printed silk chiffon dress fluttered out, light as air.

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