Francisco Costa has swapped Spring's see-through slipdresses and delicate lingerie for sturdier stuff. Wool felt, to be precise. His pre-fall collection seemed to be an exercise in making the somewhat rigid and certainly thick material sensuous. It sounds like an impossible challenge, but Costa made a success of it, and it comes down to a single element: the hourglass silhouette.

Designers up and down Manhattan have been talking about the waist this week, and Costa made it the focal point of his show. Coats, dresses, and the jackets of skirtsuits (there wasn't a pair of pants to be seen) came cinched with belts, or their backs were decorated with long, curving parallel seams. Pleats on full, A-line skirts echoed those seams and kept the hourglass idea going. There's something pleasingly perverse about a bustier dress in second-skin charcoal-colored wool felt, or a leather and wool bustier over a cashmere crewneck—they're just so unexpected. Felted wool coats were less of a surprise, but they displayed the same exacting attention to cut and fit. The collection's colors—a brown that was almost black, khaki, putty, and apricot—further served to accentuate Costa's trademark precision.