Vera Wang moved her show from the Bryant Park tents to the more intimate confines of her new Soho boutique, and the change of venue, coupled with the new economy, clearly had her rethinking her aesthetic. Wang is New York's most romantic designer, but for Fall she stripped her clothes of most of the glittering embellishments she usually favors. That's not to say they didn't deliver plenty of sensory pleasures. The close quarters of her store were the perfect place to appreciate the liquid-y, ripplelike effect of the Fortuny-inspired black moiré organza she used for off-the-shoulder dresses and coats, and to hear the swish-swish of a navy techno stretch skinny pant worn with a tie-front jacket.

Overall, there was a severity to the collection that felt new. It came across through the scuba material she used for a stiff, front-pleat A-line skirt; a spare, long-sleeved coat; and, most intriguingly, corset belts that cinched the waists of a meringuelike organza dress and a crinkle cotton shirt and stretch pant look. Tank dresses, one in gray silk with cardinal red sequins and another in purple brocade with navy and gray sequins, were among the few departures from a predominantly black palette (and the most obvious allusions to her stated theme, the art patron Peggy Guggenheim and her life in Venice). Wang has always been about the arty/pretty mix; this time around, arty trumped pretty. That could win her some new fans, and should her loyalists object to the austerity, there's still plenty of her signature sparkly crystal and ribbon jewelry to go around.