The return of ladylike dressing is a boon for Adam Lippes. Ladies are who he's been dressing from the beginning—not sexlessly, not uninterestingly, but prettily and with a practiced sense of well-mannered chic. For pre-fall, he took the successful silhouettes from his Spring collection—in particular, the long, wide trousers that caused a stir—and developed them further. The entire look was lengthened: His skirts and dresses hit just below the knee or just above the ankle now. Lippes has also developed a liberal hand with tiny buttons, which snaked up skirts and down the back of blouses. They almost seemed schoolmarmish until you looked again and realized that unbuttoning them one by one could be a fetish unto itself.

The entire collection was inspired, Lippes noted, by Wirtz International, the Belgian landscape architecture firm. Looking like the land—is that what women want? But Lippes made it work, with inky, painterly prints resembling wood bark and flowers, and delicate pleating that calls to mind, he said, Wirtz's angular designs. The pleating, as well as quilting (on a cotton vest and leather jacket), will recur for Fall, Lippes hinted. For evening, he whipped up a flowered version of a showstopper from Spring: a sheer bodice that explodes around the bust line into a voluminous, floor-length floral skirt. You might have to be the size of his showroom model to pull off that much fabric, alas, but there's no beating it for drama.