Kill Bill has been given the ax at Vera Wang. The martial arts references the designer used to sometimes ferocious effect on her Spring runway have been replaced by something altogether sweeter for pre-fall. "I wanted to go in a different direction; this is more schoolgirl," Wang said at a showroom appointment today. Her models wore mini kilts over thigh-high socks and layered thin-knit cardigans on top of vests and crewnecks. Sporty parkas were rendered luxe in shearling or wool flannel with leather and fur accents, and the designer came up with a novel way to solve the cold-weather shorts issue, sewing sheer pants into the waistband of bloomers and an all-in-one.

It was still recognizably Wang, however. For one, the palette was mostly black. And for another, the looks were accented by the costume necklaces and brooches that are such a signature for her. To keep her eveningwear looking young—"not an easy thing to do," she said—she showed a lot of short shifts, adding a peplum of fur at the hips and occasionally a removable ruff of frills at the neck. Her bias-cut, draped silk gowns had a more grown-up feel. A to-the-floor frock in amethyst with a lariat of crystals tied low around the neck had an Old Hollywood glamour that should appeal to starlets of today.