Alberta Ferretti has joined the growing ranks of European designers showing their resort collections in New York. Was it the success of her stateside Philosophy show in February that prompted the move? "It's the first market to understand the necessity of this season," said the designer after her show. But her arrival is about more than just dollar signs; there's the glamour quotient, too. The presence of Debra Messing, in town promoting her new series The Starter Wife, turned an unassuming showroom presentation into an event. If anyone harbors any lingering doubts about the legitimacy of this season, it's time to start believing.

As for the clothes, Ferretti worked that cruise favorite—a nautical motif—into striped sweaters and navy peacoats worn with cuffed walking shorts, polos paired with kicky pleated miniskirts, and crisp shirtdresses that showed off plenty of leg. Dresses—some with pleats, others with clever trompe l'oeil versions of the same—evoked Deauville in the 1920's without feeling the least bit retro. The inspiration was the seaside, but the results were chic enough for the city streets. When it came to eveningwear, there was little of the pouf and circumstance of the night before at Dior. Instead, Ferretti showed plenty of the signature soft chiffon dresses that have made her one of Hollywood's go-to red-carpet designers. "My favorite was the strapless nude style with the embroidery down the sides," said Messing. "I'd walk out with that today."