Part of it had to do with the powerhouse front row—Jessica Chastain, Kate Bosworth, the Knicks' center Tyson Chandler (all 7 feet, 1 inch of him)—but the energy at Joseph Altuzarra's show tonight was popping. After Fall's breakout collection, the audience was expecting big things from the CFDA's Swarovski Award winner for womenswear. And big things is what he gave us. Actually, make that many small things that produced a big impact. Starting with the jackets. Altuzarra proved himself a standout tailor last season, with his focus on outerwear. Here he came up with a clever way to stretch a blazer's lifespan well into summer: vents through which you put your arms like a cape, rather than the sleeves, so that the jacket stays in place on your shoulders. "It's how editors wear their coats," he said of the genesis of the idea. His fabrics deserve a mention, too: railroad stripes like the OshKosh overalls you wore as a kid (one of the week's burgeoning trends), and a brown the exact same shade of clay that Carhartt uses. Breast-pocket patches announcing the Altuzarra logo were another thing he borrowed from the workwear brands. No one is going to be driving spikes in these things, but they nonetheless had a no-nonsense feel that will put them at the top of women's spring shopping lists.
The evening numbers, in sharp contrast, had an almost couture sensibility, constructed as they were with lavishly bejeweled and embroidered silks wrapped around the torso and neck, trailing gold chain fringe. But here again the designer instituted his fuss-free policy. They all came with deep zippers down the back for slip-on-and-go ease. Altuzarra is a big believer in the power of one piece—more time to buckle up your knee-grazing Gianvito Rossi for Altuzarra sandals!—and picking up where his Resort line left off, he showed a trompe l'oeil dress that looked like a banker's button-down tucked into a high-waisted printed silk pencil skirt.
"M-A-J-O-R," a colleague pronounced when the last model did her victory lap. You'd have been hard-pressed to find a fashion-loving soul in the house who disagreed.