Last season's angelic interlude seems to have left Antonio Berardi in the mood for sin. The power babes who strode his runway today wore charcoal-gray, superskinny, high-waisted pants with just a shade more structure than leggings, and sharp-shouldered jackets cropped to display curve-enhancing vests. High-tech fabrics circled the shoulders and stretched taut across the models' torsos like modern armor, almost bringing to mind a policeman's protective Kevlar gear. There were hints of Alaïa in the girdled waists, but Berardi also took the concept in a softer direction, accenting the hourglass shape of dresses with fagoting at strategic intervals near the bust and hips.

But whereas the beginning of the show celebrated and intensified the female form, what followed went in a different direction and was a bit of a letdown by comparison. Milk-white dresses with biblike bodices made from built-up geometric layers of wool and spliced skirts molded to form wide bubble hems ignored and disguised the natural shapes beneath. The program notes referenced Brancusi, but the effect was more artificial, almost robotic—a theme reinforced by the poured-plastic back of another dress and the show's shiny patent half-moon necklaces. Bottom line: When Berardi tempered his tendency to overembellish and overwork things, he and his clothes were at their sexy best.