Ask Reed Krakoff who his model customer is, and he has a quick answer: It's his interior designer wife, Delphine. Early next summer when pre-fall looks start hitting stores (or possibly before, easy access to samples being one of the major perks of marrying a designer), Delphine will take meetings in a charcoal, orange, and camel color-blocked shift or a burnished python wrap skirt and silk baseball T-shirt blouse that nailed what Krakoff describes as the "hard and soft" look. His new pantsuits work a similarly strict yet feminine vibe, with bias-cut, slim sleeves on cropped jackets and low-slung, pleated, (very) full trousers. For the party circuit, Delphine might choose a chiffon and crepe de chine layered floor-length apron dress—"utilitarian but elevated," Krakoff likes to say. And when the weather turns cold again, she'll have her choice of outerwear: maybe a lofty alpaca coat or a sheared shearling hooded jacket or a laquered felt elongated peacoat.

It hasn't been quite a year since Krakoff started showing his new ready-to-wear line. Those smart, assured statement coats in particular suggest that he's relaxing into the new role.