Nicole and Michael Colovos can be trusted to deliver downtown cool in dependably novel ways. Take, for example, a chalky white dress from their pre-fall collection for Helmut Lang
. Its sleeveless, sexy cut isn't exactly predictable, but what really elevates it out of the ordinary and gives it the extra edge is its material: The soft, brushed linen is inset at the shoulders and waist with perch, an aquatic alternative to snakeskin. Fabric play is always key for the duo, and this season they created a print of abstract scribbles for drapey, narrow dresses by adding color to a photocopy of a photocopy of a…well, you get the picture. They treated leather in interesting ways, too, either tailoring it into a slim button-down or piecing it together for a boxy tee, the rough bottom hem of which is the natural edge of the hide. In addition to shirts and dresses, outerwear is a big part of the brand's business. One look at a black leather trench or a super-fitted, cropped jacket worn over an asymmetrical-hem dress, and you could see why.