"It sounds kind of weird, but I literally craft day and night."

Standing backstage before his show, amid heavily embroidered harnesses and a white wool deer's head (more on that in a minute), downtown fixture Benjamin Cho was making a convincing case that he's not all play and no work. For the past couple of months, the designer has been holed up in his apartment with artist friends like Tony Cox and Dan Colen, hand-finessing his appliquéd, spliced, woven, printed, and layered Fall 2008 collection. "When stores like Colette order," he said, discussing his more labor-intensive, intricately wrought garments, "that's what they want."

But despite the crafty basis of the collection, there were items here to appeal to buyers outside the Colette-Barneys axis. The pieced cocktail dresses with sequin underlays, for example, are as close to the mainstream as Cho cares to get. Not that he's forgotten his core fan base of art school girls and those who love them: The deer headpiece, which came complete with antlers and topped a knit slipdress ensemble, was vintage Cho. And it got a big round of applause from his friends in the crowd.