For Resort, Narciso Rodriguez was inspired by a meeting with the great Cuban-American artist Carmen Herrera—a woman who, by the way, sold her first painting at 89 before being warmly embraced by the art world. Her abstract, geometric works became the oversized, layered blocks of color and fabric in the collection.

Rodriguez's name is often associated with pure forms and minimal elegance, but for Resort—following up on the masculine/feminine play and color-blocking of Fall—he pushed in a more graphic direction. Treated fabrics jostle natural ones; laminated canvas and twill giving a shiny, almost leatherlike finish and a hint of a street edge. (One key dress boasts a laminated silk bustier for a hint of fetish without revealing an inch too much flesh—a sneaky trick tucked into a prim, pretty, flared-skirt silhouette. A good one, too.) There was a tomboyish, gamine quality to Rodriguez's sleeveless blazers, smart shorts, and flats. And with an exposed bra here and there, some sex appeal, too.

Less explicitly sexy were the simple shifts that are a label standard. This season, they came in what the designer called "engineered plaids," boldly colored and blown up to the point of barest recognition. Engineering is a good word for Rodriguez; so is its close cousin, architecture. He specializes in the structure that underlies every piece. "There's so much fast fashion, easy fashion," he said. "I want to create a dress that's simple. But there's a great deal of work that goes into that." Not easy. Not fast. But you know what they say about the slow and the steady when it comes to the proverbial race.