Even the most devoted floral-loving, Brontë-obsessed romantic must dress for real life. Brock Collection’s Laura Vassar and Kristopher Brock seem increasingly inclined to address that reality, and for fall they did so with alluring style.

The designers worked a romantic panache that grabbed you with its contradiction, while evolving their founding ethos without clouding it a bit. Florals always loom significant for Vassar and Brock. Backstage preshow, Brock noted that this time, they were drawn to archival prints taken from oil paintings. These had a moody aura, some colorful but dark, some brown and ivory with black embroidery.

The palette de-sweetened the collection, which was bookended with tailoring. It opened with a long, lean ruffle-edged jacket in a men’s wear check belted over a dusty brown floral skirt, billowing but controlled, and ended with a black suit, jacket precise, pants languid. In between, a significant focus on tailoring spoke directly to a broadened perspective. The designers kept these looks mostly lean, save for a peplum or two, in jackets and coats sometimes cut with graceful off-the-shoulder lines. A few sportswear options further broadened the range, including a notched-collar coat in an exquisite pale plaid over a floral cropped top and ivory skirt. Of course, there were the requisite romantic heroine gowns, mostly in pretty patterns and often high-waisted, tiered and beset with bows, a lovely antisiren alternative to the high-wattage glam on other runways. Yet one of the loveliest dresses wasn’t a gown at all, but a shorter, empire variant with frothy sleeves.

It all looked the best kind of alluring, the smart kind. As for that black suit that closed the show — a harbinger of more tempered romance to come? We’ll see.

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