Years of putting celebrities like Claire Danes, Julianna Margulies, and Julia Louis-Dreyfus in sexy, scuba-tight dresses have earned Narciso Rodriguez his rep as a maestro of fit. But sit down with him to discuss his clothes and it's apparent that fabric comes first. "I love working with the factories, with the fabric technicians," he says. Rodriguez put them to work for pre-fall, decolorizing silk to create rainbowlike ombré effects on a wrap top layered under a fitted tweed jacket, or laundering flannel to give an otherwise pulled-together sheath a lived-in effect.

The sheer black camisole that topped a washed rose jacquard dress riffed on the lingerie details of his hit Spring show. Playing the feminine against the masculine is the designer's MO this season, and it made for a surefooted, sellable outing. For every delicate slipdress, there was a sweeping leather trench; A-line skirts came paired with a boyish zip-front jacket or a peacoat. Speaking of outerwear, Rodriguez sourced what just might qualify as the world's softest, most cashmerelike wool. He cut it into a light gray-blue cardigan coat so plush you'll want to wear it as a bathrobe.