There were opposing forces at work in Cédric Charlier's pre-fall presentation today. On one side: his attraction to Flemish painters like Vermeer and van der Weyden, and on the other: his preference for modern, ergonomic shapes. The push-pull produced a compelling lineup for the Belgian newcomer. Charlier's clothes have an edge, but they're not intimidating. At one point during our preview, he said, "I don't want to have a black collection; color is really important." Spoken like a man who understands retailers, and a designer who happens to have a brilliant color sense—witness the outfit comprised of a pink Perfecto jacket, an acid yellow top, red stovepipe pants, and metallic gold pumps.

Color, to be sure, has saturated the market at all price levels. It wasn't the only selling point of Charlier's new output. His shearlings looked good, especially the pink jacket with contrasting black leather sleeves. He has a knack for knitwear, as a bubbly knit forest green sweater worn with an asymmetric hem pencil skirt proved. And he knows how to cut a body-con dress, even if the torso cutouts on his gowns felt a little predictable. As for those Flemish painters, Charlier owes them one. The abstract flower brocade they inspired turned out to be this collection's highlight, whipped up as it was into a fitted, long-sleeve minidress.