Diane von Furstenberg channeled the forties in a show she dubbed "Foreign Affair" for the three cities her imaginary muse visits: first Berlin, then Shanghai, followed by Manhattan. Separates played a starring role in her story—a big departure from last season's dress-centric lineup, and a timely one, as sportswear, like the forties, is shaping up to be a big New York trend. The collection began with a bow-front blouse and a flaring A-line skirt or full-leg trousers; from there, von Furstenberg added a trim cardigan or a puff-sleeve jacket, and over that went a coat, sometimes oversize, always cinched with a narrow leather belt. Herringbone and glen plaid met a dove-gray floral print. Lurex gingham topped black feathers. And slinky silk slips peeked out from beneath chunky cardigans.

Woman cannot live on sportswear alone, though, and come evening, the options multiplied. A floral-print cheongsam and an old-Hollywood gold lamé gown stuck to the script DVF had laid out. But she appeared to lose the plot with a flapper's sack dress studded with beads and sequins. Then again, von Furstenberg's heroine, like the designer herself, plays by no rules but her own.