Over the past year, Thuy Pham and Miho Aoki's explorations of architecture and origami have been quite literal-minded, replete with references to geodesic domes and Herzog and de Meuron. The result was Fall 2007 and Spring 2008 collections that were somewhat heavy-handed, somewhat predictable. Well, third time's the charm: This season, their more abstracted construction gestures—as in the opening look, a black coat with a folded, beaded collar, or the cerulean jacket with 3-D prism pockets—kept the proceedings more light-handed and interesting. The appropriately upbeat music was put together by Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, who sat front-row with band member Nick Zinner.

United Bamboo is known for blending slightly twisted takes on preppy classics with kawaii elements. Cute returned for autumn with a leitmotif of bows, which popped up in different forms throughout the show. If some experiments with industrial materials (like a sequined dress with an overlay of cord and metallic tubes) fell flat, a series of ladylike blouses paired with paper bag-waist pants and skirts lifted the duo to higher ground.