"Rocking ninja-star action!" No, it's not some new video game; it's how Narciso Rodriguez summed up his Spring collection. He's never been a floral-print man, but this season New York's most rigorous designer really amped up the edginess with, yes, ninja-star prints and ninja-star bugle-bead embroidery, one-sleeved bandage dresses, and studded bodices that evoked armor. Even the tailoring with which he started the show had something of the warrior to it: The collar- and lapel-less zip-closure jackets he's been experimenting with the last couple of seasons came with newly rounded yet strong shoulders reminiscent of the traditional gis of karate masters.
The elevated sense of sexiness didn't come at the expense of pretty, however. There were more colorssage, kelly green, red, salmon pink, rust, and nudethan in his last several collections combined. The banding motif that he employed throughout (strips of fabric, usually in a contrasting color or fabric arranged geometrically on the front and back of tops and dresses) served to amplify his models' hourglass curves. And then there were the cutouts, more daring than ever before, a provocative flash of skin below the bust or crisscrossing bodice straps that exposed the ribs and swaths of the models' backs. You couldn't exactly call it freewheeling, but this was Rodriguez at his loosest and best.