Cynthia Rowley is approaching the recession with a glass-half-full mentality. "This is a time when you have to be more inventive and resourceful," she said before her show. "Potent creativity springs from instability." For Fall, the designer put her focus on accessories—including crystal-encrusted legwear, slouchy leather boots, and carved onyx "wishbone" necklaces—that can be worn to update a woman's existing wardrobe.

Believing that shoppers are also in the market for more artisanal wares, Rowley took a craftier approach with the clothing than she has in seasons past. A blouse done up in rows of ribbons, paired with a brocade miniskirt, had an heirloom feel, and a series of sweet silk dresses were patchworked with floral fabrics. While the detailing on some cropped pants felt overly folksy, Rowley's strategy should appeal to her customer come fall.