"I wanted to do this even before Nancy Pelosi was voted in," said VPL designer Victoria Bartlett, whose show—dubbed "Modern Suffragettes"—was a sartorial homage to pioneering women through the ages. Drawing loosely from women ranging from Victorian suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst to Guardian Angel Lisa Sliwa, Bartlett gave herself a broad aesthetic palette, while keeping the utilitarian slant that has always enabled her collection to evoke the strength of the female form. This show built on the designer's longtime love of the details on uniforms and institutional garb, with a new and mostly successful emphasis on more literal military inspirations, such as well-tailored wool pieces liberally detailed with patch pockets. These were mixed with the forward-thinking, fluid jersey pieces that are a VPL mainstay, while styling touches like berets and boots underlined the march-for-a-cause theme.

Bartlett is doing some pioneering of her own. Having just garnered a Fashion Group nomination, and having joined up a year ago with a Japanese silent partner, this stylist-turned-designer is turning what began as a sideline lingerie label into a complete business. Bartlett's wider focus was apparent in the specially commissioned shoes made with Jean-Michel Cazabat and her great slouchy handbags in lightly distressed leather. They were big enough, of course, to hold everything for a woman who is busy changing the world.