Narciso Rodriguez accomplished a difficult feat: focusing on tailoring while amping up the sex appeal. In the past, he has built collections around dresses, but, he said backstage, "Fashion is moving in so many different directions now, I want clean, pure, sexy, and solid again." That meant double-faced jackets that skimmed the torso like a second skin, and collarless coats that fell gracefully away from the body, as well as a tuxedo that had somehow lost all traces of masculinity.

There was a softness to the collection, too. Witness a tweed day dress that was actually thick yarn woven through a base of chiffon, and for after dark, a peekaboo dress with a skirt of singed peacock feathers, or a safety-orange number with an elaborately pintucked bodice. Shots of paprika, celadon, and citrine also helped heat things up. Decoration, as always at this house, was minimal—lines of beads that arched along a straight skirt or the bottom of a coat.

Another way Rodriguez got the job done was by turning his attentions to the back: A leather shirt was cinched with arabesques of lacing that traced the shoulders, while the straps of a rather spare (at least in front) cocktail dress crisscrossed the spine several times. Rodriguez says these were designed to turn a man's head. And nothing turns on his customers more than that.