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Daryl K played it cool in her Daryl K collection, while Behnaz Sarafpour toyed with a Moroccan theme and Rebecca Taylor’s looks had a schoolgirl charm.

Daryl K: Thank you, Daryl Kerrigan, for a little subversive diversion this week. Take metallic brocade, which has been treated reverentially and straightforwardly by so many this season. Not for Kerrigan, who basically manhandles it, fraying its edges and dressing it way, way down to a T-shirt with ruching at back. That’s what Kerrigan does best, straying just a little from the rest of the fashion pack and always playing it cool. For fall, she wasn’t interested in forced volume, happy to let silk, felt and jersey fall and flutter at their will. As a result, her signature layered tanks, blouses and dresses, done in muted brown, plum, gray and black, moved freely with the body. And tailored coats? No thanks. Kerrigan gave her tweedy set a serious dose of louche for slouchy shoulders and floppy collars. And with an eye on her beloved downtown street origins, she sent out stovepipe pants and shiny leggings — a perfect counterbalance to the supersized shearling wrap in winter white. Daryl Kerrigan will always be a little bit punk, and New York fashion will be better for it.

Behnaz Sarafpour: Being a designer of simple tastes — as is Behnaz Sarafpour — isn’t always a simple affair. That issue becomes doubly difficult when mining such rich inspirational matter as the Bedouins of Morocco. So, while some designers may err on the side of costume with their references, Sarafpour fell just a little short in the opposite direction. A reasonably chic ensemble of a classic black turtleneck paired with a skirt lightly trimmed in colored tassels set a mostly promising stage. But from there, Sarafpour digressed into looks that suffered from being neither here nor there, the worst case being a gray panne velvet dress with an inexplicably sparse coin-trimmed hem. Along with a few pretty dresses, the best parts of the collection channeled the tailored tomboy look that the designer herself favors with jackets and short pants. However, those pants — some toreador slim, others with jodhpur-style volume — may prove a tough sell for girls not blessed with coltish model gams. But on the upside, Sarafpour isn’t one to stagnate as she always moves ahead to make a strong new statement from season to season. And when taking a risk, you can’t win them all.

This story first appeared in the February 10, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Elie Tahari: Change is in the air for Elie Tahari. Having moved the design team from New York to Italy, Tahari hoped to give the collection some Continental flair and, indeed, it did. Another big move was to a new showroom on 42nd Street, where the designer presented his collection on mannequins in a moody atmosphere complete with ornate chandeliers and calla lilies.

Tahari found inspiration in fashion’s current muse, the magpie, showing embellished separates cut from rich fabrics. Softly constructed velvet jackets were sprinkled with jewels and finished with fuzzy fox collars. A rabbit fur coat in dusty blue and brown was sheared to resemble houndstooth and delicately trimmed in chiffon, while full chiffon skirts were striped in sequins with a hint of lace peeking from below. It all made for an eclectic and pretty mix.

Rebecca Taylor: Rebecca Taylor pulled off a balancing act for fall. She managed to temper her sometimes overly girlish hand with a sober palette of gray, brown and black, minus the rosy satin of a poet frock and blouse. But never fear that she completely changed direction — there were plenty of feminine frills that smacked of the Taylor touch, such as a beautiful black-and-cream appliquéd belt that cinched a cream blouse into a pouf skirt. A direct riff on a Blumarine theme perhaps, but at a more attainable price for Taylor’s younger clientele. The designer hiked waists up to the season’s favored Empire, but where the look read as a Russian influence elsewhere, hers was more of a charming English schoolgirl. It looked best in a handful of double-breasted jackets, such as the velvet-collared brown plaid number topping skinny velvet pants or a chocolate wool version that could swing for a dress, fluffed out with a delicate eyelet petticoat. All those petticoats and lacy high collars will no doubt call to the Victorian lover looking to lighten her Gothic load.

Lela Rose: Looking at Lela Rose’s front row was like peering through a socialite’s version of Romper Room’s Magic Mirror. “I see Celerie and Amanda. And there’s Jamee, Alison and Nathalie.” Rose’s charming day looks will no doubt grab the front row’s attention, but the designer was also reaching for the stars, especially the Oscar-bound. For that event, her predictable silk siren gowns and oddly laced numbers didn’t quite hit the mark.

But Rose’s glamorous, dressed-up day looks sure did, especially the cropped heather gray cashmere cableknit sweater over a rose wool gathered skinny skirt. And in a season when short pants are making a big showing, Rose offered one better version: metallic tweed, straight-cut page-boy culottes paired with a chartreuse silk ruffled blouse and moss velvet jacket. This designer has a way of making her younger, quirkier styles look effortless, with just the right proportions and a playful mix of textures and colors. Her outerwear was stellar, and the belted, olive wool coat, all dressed up with a wide golden-lace hemline, was a knockout.