Ann Bonfoey Taylor, a skiwear designer-slash-Colorado aristocrat and the subject of a recent exhibition at the Phoenix Art Museum, was Michael Kors' muse for pre-fall. "Nan Kempner on the range," he called her, meaning the lady liked her clothes. The sporty, slightly rugged sensibility of her personal collection rubbed off on his: knee-length walking shorts met a dip-dyed Mongolian lamb vest, and a tissue-thin knit tank was worn with a low-slung taffeta ball skirt belted at the hips. For accessories, he showed harness bags and polished cowboy boots.

Kors said pre-fall means three things to his business: "seasonless clothes; it's the power woman's favorite season; and it's Hollywood's evening season because runway dresses are too obvious." In the first category: a draped stretch wool sheath in a black and white plaid. In the second: a three-piece pinstriped pantsuit the vest of which stretched down to the model's knees. And in the third: a black silk button-down tucked into a washed faille short-in-front/long-in-back skirt and a stretchy turquoise tank dress with that same sassy, asymmetric hemline.

The three editors in chief at his small presentation—power women all—oohed and aahed the whole way through, but the group saved their real appreciation for the designer's outerwear. Kors has looked west for inspiration before, but he's a city boy at heart, meaning he knows the power of a smart coat. We counted at least three: a Mongolian lamb chubby color-blocked in black and white, a red riding coat with a grand fox collar, and an ivory zip-front coat with a built-in leather harness belt so you don't lose it at coat check. See what we mean about smart?