Vera Wang's Spring collection was as artsy as ever, but, inspired by the proto-pop French artist Niki de Saint Phalle, the designer expanded on the soft-focus romance she's known for to embrace a gutsier kind of chic. From across the room you'd still peg each piece in the collection as signature Vera, but in addition to the familiar sheer gazar over-slips and three-dimensional dresses there were now narrow "basketball" tanks, skinny cigarette pants and leggings, and pencil skirts. In counterpoint to the hand-painted duchesse satin frocks and skirts, Wang showed graphic printsa charcoal and white color-blocked tank dress stood out for its sharp simplicity. Joining her crystalline necklines and necklaces were panels of colorful mosaic-cut sequins cascading down the front of a dress, or wrapping the waist of a skirt that echoed the silvery gray sculpture at the back of the runway.
Favoring a shorter silhouette for both day and evening, Wang limited herself to two gownsone in gray and orange layers of silk organza, the other a short beaded dress with an ankle-skimming sheer veil. All in all, there was newness here (Janis Savitt-designed cameo jewelry included), but still plenty that should please the designer's loyalists, who like their Vera just the way it is, thank you very much.