For Pre-Fall, Pamella Roland's idea was to weave animal prints into her formalwear world, a tricky stunt to say the least. After all, those kinds of spots and stripes traditionally work best on demure items such as ballet flats and cashmere cardigans.

Roland was able to pull it off by using them in slightly abstract ways. "There's a newness to it," said David Rodriguez, the brand's VP of design and brand development. A zebra print, for instance, was rendered in ruby and black on day-to-dinner dresses that shimmered just enough to make them feel worthy of a party. (One was a more romantic fit-and-flare, the other a no-nonsense shift.) The real winner was a knee-length frock with a crisscross back, done in a dove gray leopard-print jacquard that almost looked like it was painted on.

Things got a little more complicated when it came to a copper-and-black sequined minidress, which had leopard spots going down the front and stripes on the sides. A bit too wild. Also going too far—albeit in another direction—was a one-shoulder minidress made up of a patchwork of purple, gray, and black sequins. Sequins are Roland's signature, so they should be part of her most exciting pieces. This just felt out of place. Roland and her team are at their best when their designs are unfussy, as in the case of a gray V-neck jumpsuit that was both simple and dressy at once.