Behnaz Sarafpour’s fall show was full of self-conscious references—to everything from sewing patterns to dressmaking dummies—that only a fashion insider could recognize. But even the most casual observer will appreciate the collection’s subtle charm and clean cuts.

Sarafpour sent out elegant little dresses and jackets whose brass zippers were intentionally left uncovered as decoration, and a camel coat with the darts and shoulder pads picked out in black. She also picked up on the retro trend flowing through this season, exploring a late-’50s feel via coats and jackets with three-quarter sleeves worn over slim skirts or toreador pants. This is a designer with a witty sense of scale—and who knows when to use it. Last season, for example, she played with exploding sunburst tie-dye; this time, it was fox-fur collars the size of kiddie pools and lacy sweaters crocheted in extra-bulky ivory yarn.

The gold brocade the designer used for a few skirts and tops has shown up on too many other runways to look new, but Sarafpour’s disciplined cutting made it simple and appealing. And if some of her pieces were a little overworked—like a tulle ball skirt topped by a beige horsehair bodice—the collection as a whole had an appealing sense of gentle, intelligent experimentation.