According to their program notes, Lisa Mayock and Sophie Buhai were thinking about gonzo bohemian excess and the hard-living adventurers Hunter S. Thompson and Ernest Hemingway, men whose lifestyles embraced ¿humor, liquor, depression, peyote and red wine, Paris and Big Sur.¿

That's not the sort of backstory you hear every day, and it was always going to be a hard concept to pull off, even for a pair of designers who have won a place in the hearts of fashion critics with their quirky charm. And in fact, it was mostly the quirk that was in evidence today. Sheer chiffon tunics and rumpled denim vests were bulked up with cargo pockets, a look unlikely to be embraced by many women. Two awkward dresses—a black flared knit and an olive silk shirtdress—came across as frumpy.

It was with simpler looks that the designers regained their footing. A stiff cotton-twill suit, belted at the waist, felt just right, and the tiered silk dresses were fresh, especially the short black number worn under a supple fawn-colored leather jacket. And there was nothing gonzo about the slim column gown that closed the show.