Jill Stuart's fall collection marked a change in direction, with some looks suggesting a new horizon, and a few others pointing toward a dead end. From the cossack-collared trapeze coat that opened the show—and the black-clad rocker girls who followed—there was an air of London cool that swept down the runway, erasing any thought of Stuart's usual sugary, ornamental fare. Instead the emphasis was on long and lean: great coats and sweeping skirts slit up the front and worn with blouson-sleeve blouses for an equestrienne-meets-goth vibe, and skinny black jeans, beaded vests, and a mouse-print minidress that seemed to be cut with the young and slender in mind.

Stuart was trying to push the envelope, but she still wants to cater to a wide audience; for every downtown look—such as the Dior-esque black-and-silver-striped minidress with matching scarf—there was something safer, like the bare-backed jersey gowns which were vying for a spot on the charity gala circuit.

The designer mostly achieved her aim of making this collection "cleaned up and modern," but with a show comprising 50 looks, there was certainly room to edit: There were too many Empire and thirties-inspired dresses, and some of them just looked like vintage redone. Yes, there was a sense that Stuart is more clued in to how young women dress today, but the designer hasn't entirely abandoned the past.