Six months ago, Richard Chai began honing his brand (logos, labels, and the like) with art director Fabien Baron. It was the ideal moment to step back and think hard about who he is as a designer. Well, judging by the Fall collection that had people buzzing, he has found himself.

"When you're starting out, you want to show everything you can do," Chai had said a few days before the show. "Now I feel like I have a new confidence within myself. This is my vision." The first look was a knockout: a tiny shearling jacket in forest green (so dark it was almost black) over a long sequined waistcoat, ivory shirt, and slouchy slim pants in a brocade with just a hint of texture. In typical Chai style, it was meticulous, incorporating his characteristic arced seams, but there was a new lightness, too. That feeling pervaded the entire collection, which flowed coherently from the masculine sexiness of pants and boots with biker jackets, and luxurious knits in woodsy colors, to the dresses his customers adore in bright bursts of color. The finale was a series of dresses in a chiffon photo print of the melted sequins that had embellished earlier pieces. It was a clever idea, though Chai somewhat spoiled the effect by applying it to a few too many looks. Still, that was a small blight on an otherwise strong effort. With a new men's collection this season as well, and concrete plans for a store by spring, this aspiring brand builder is on a roll.