The latest Trovata collection was laden with so much backstory that the clothes had their work cut out for them to make much of an impression. Throughout fashion week, a couple of Eastern European "aristocrats" had been making disturbingly anomic appearances at shows and parties accompanied by a large and remarkably passive cat. Turns out they were a setup designed to preview designer John Whitledge's collection. Which, in turn, took as its inspiration a fictional 28-year-old private-school teacher in Manhattan in 1981.

More pertinent than both of these conceptual exercises was surely the real-life drama of the Trovata trio's split, leaving only Whitledge to carry the label forward. He made a game attempt, focusing on finer fabrics, redefining the silhouette. The bold linings, the secret pockets, the distinctive closings (particularly an enamel hook and eyelet) are part of Trovata's charm, as is the sense of layers of clothes with a story to tell. The problem was that unseasoned schoolteacher. As a conceit, it lacked the engaging complexity of last season's scuba-diving-explorers yarn, and added little new to the Trovata vocabulary. Perhaps striped and plaid button-down shirts or boxy suits in wide-wale mulberry corduroy and navy felted wool were intended to suggest the buttoned-down spirit of the classroom, but it felt better to focus on the gutsier outerwear, like a parka, a duffel, and a brown corduroy coat with a big knit collar.