"It's Jane Goodall if she were chic," joked Lela Rose
backstage after her show, which merged her colorful uptown oeuvre with the narrative of a lady entomologist in the rain forest. Goodall studied chimps in Africa, but this is fashion, people, not Jeopardy
, so Rose's beautiful palette was more Amazonian in nature. She mixed a host of greens—moss, peacock, forest—with exotic insect-inspired jewel tones. At this point, though, Rose doesn't need the natural world to inform her sure sense of color or print. What was most interesting here was to see the designer work more utilitarian aspects into her sweetly feminine look. This collection seemed to be an answer (intentional or not) to how a pretty-dress designer moves ahead when fashion's collective beat is drumming with a harder edge. That was evident in a drab trench in gorgeous ribbed cashmere tossed over a citrine cocktail frock, or even in small gestures like the layering of knits and simple belting of waists that would once have been left loose and boxy. Rose's collection pushed forward without threatening to alienate her clientele, suggesting that she's traversing fashion's jungle just fine.