You do not want to mess with Barbara Bui's fierce lady. The French designer's look is always cool, but this season it was also aggressive. "A sensual, powerful woman," was how Bui summed it up. A blue python pattern lorded over the collection, printed on a scuba-fabric skirtsuit, a collarless overcoat (made of a lightweight cotton mesh), and a pair of pointy, square-heel boots that looked like the perfect weapon to kick a person clear across the street.

Nothing evokes power more than a well-fitting suit, and there were plenty available: a classic black jacket and pant was given a sharp-shouldered edge, while a gray heather version was worn with a double-collar button-up. The collar-on-collar idea wasn't the only example of deceptive layering: A white cuff peeked out at the wrists of a chambray shirt. Even baby blue taffeta looks tough cut into a puffy bomber. But the real indication that this woman is ready for urban battle was the giant quilted parrot appliqué, done in Miami Vice colors and laid over everything from a leather sweatshirt to the inside of a jacket. It requires confidence to spare to pull off something that awesomely flashy.