For the last couple of seasons, Brian Wolk and Claude Morais of Ruffian
have been exploring youth cultures—New England boarding school preppies one season, Woodstock love children the next—and not always with great success. (Spring's ramble into haute hippiedom felt particularly forced.) Ladylike is just more their speed, so they smartly put polished tailoring and nighttime frills back on the agenda for Fall. A fitted peplum jacket cut to show off just a hint of shoulder and worn with a smocked tube skirt in matching gray cashmere-cotton stood out, but the ladies will have their pick of skirtsuits, too, in boiled ivory bouclé or handwoven oversize black and gold houndstooth. If they prefer a dress, there's the navy and white chalk stripe, cut to fit like a glove. Pants were high-waisted, full, and cropped a few inches above the ankle.
A beaded jaguar dress on a peachy-pink background was a novel way to do an animal print. But for evening the designers favored reprising their familiar hits. A black silk-cotton dress came with grand, notice-me ruffles at the armholes, while a narrow red number blossomed above the waist like a rose. The models' black point d'esprit body stockings notwithstanding, this was the Ruffian boys at their most sophisticated.